A series of stories about inspirational South African Women
#1 Samantha Skyring, owner of Oryx Desert Salt
Men can’t braai. We said it, men can’t braai! We mean, women take care of the shopping, the spice, the snacks. Women are the backbone. Women are the flavour in whatever we are cooking. Women are the embers behind the flame, the spark in the fire of a braai. We checked in with a fiery South African businesswoman, to hear her story. How and why, she feels salt is the most important mineral there is, however small, but significant to our existence.
They say the world is made up of a million small things. Loads of tiny miracles that collectively make a big difference. You can say the same in a new dish you’re trying to make – ever had a potjie without salt? A lamb chop without braai spice? One small ingredient can be the difference between eating a delicious meal, or constantly thinking something is missing.
In the vast Kalahari, sand dunes, sun rays, and dusty breezes. There, you will find something in the nothingness. If you know where to look, and only a few people do. The secret to the Kalahari is that the magic is disguised, hidden from the naked eye. A special, unique place that hasn’t been touched by man. Only bushmen there. They only took what they really needed. Nothing more, nothing less. They lived in harmony with nature. A philosophy that Samantha Skyring, owner of Oryx Desert Salt, lives by.
A woman driven by making an impact, giving back, and delivering pure quality salt. A woman that has embraced the nature of her product and adapted it to be her business strategy. A woman that has found inspiration in a 55 million ton underground salt lake, about 250km north of Upington towards the Kgalagadi. A beautiful place that is hidden from the world, where underground rivers flow through the ancient rock strata of more than 280 million years old – geo scientifically proven we might add.
Samantha has found joy in the only mineral we can eat – salt. A mineral you cannot braai without! Salt in its purest form, is flavoured by the environment it was sourced from. Oryx Desert Salt tastes like the Kalahari in a bottle. It enhances the flavour and beauty that you’ll find on the sand dunes, almost as if you can taste how splendid the surroundings are. That, is what Samantha wanted to do, share the beauty of one of Africa’s largest deserts.
Not only the taste, but the harmony in which the bushmen lived with nature, is captured in Oryx Desert Salt. Her product is all about sustainability through a renewable source. The underground rivers gather trace elements of minerals from the ancient rock strata. Without getting too technical, in the summertime when temperatures hit up to 50°C, the saturated brine on the salt pan crystalizes in as little as four weeks. So quick it is unheard of in the salt industry! It is then only passed through a sieve and bottled. From the Kalahari straight to your braai table.
Samantha shares in the philosophy of the bushmen, to only take what you need from nature and to respect what it has given us. To give back, to protect and preserve as best we can. Samantha has embraced this by giving back to local communities and donating to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to the Khomani San and Mier communities. The Oryx refill bags are handmade by local women that have been empowered to sew and create something. Each salt grinder has been designed with sustainability in mind, with nothing that is harmful to our planet. Truly trying to protect it as a way of giving thanks for the gift of salt.
Small, but significant. Never underestimate the power of flavour, the power that seasoning or salt can make in your braai. Never take for granted that our beautiful country supplies us with what we need, for our wellbeing. That is the dream Samantha has, that with each sprinkle of salt, it leads to something significant. It leads to South Africans being more conscious of what they eat, where it’s sourced, and how it was further produced.
To Samantha and the Oryx Desert Salt team, we salute you for inspiring change. For being the changemakers and creators of togetherness from the Kalahari all the way to Pretoria and back.
Samantha’s signature salad sprinkle
- Toast Oryx Desert Braai Salt in a pan with olive oil.
- Add pumpkin and sunflower seeds and fry till they begin to pop.
- Serve as a snack or a sprinkle over a fresh salad as a side dish at a braai.