MARSH samphire – sometimes known as “the mermaid’s kiss” – has been making its salty, crunchy presence felt on restaurant and domestic tables in recent years, and now you can grow your own seashore delicacy, thanks to Wincanton-based Somerset Samphire.
Samphire is already a native of Somerset, loving the salt marshes, where local farmers also graze livestock, developing a unique flavour that makes the salt-marsh lamb or mutton a gourmet delight.
With 20 years working as a horticulturalist, Tom Hall-Martell became interested in growing samphire, but found it very difficult to grow from seed. He then tried growing from cuttings and found that worked well.
He sells ready-to-grow samphire plants in both little pots and 9cm pots and it is easy, given the essential ingredients: “You have to mimic the conditions it grows in naturally,” he says. “Table salt kills it.”
You have to water it with water containing unrefined sea salt (not the sophisticated sea salt flakes you can buy in delicatessens and some supermarkets.)
You can order the samphire plants, in whatever size pot you want, or one of Tom’s popular gift sets, which include the unrefined sea salt, seaweed feed and growing instructions.
Looking ahead, Tom is working to develop a samphire salt. In the meantime, for more on Somerset Samphire, visit www.somersetsamphire.co.uk