Unearthing a Tradition of Flavor at Helena’s Old Salt
One of those words that gets thrown around Montana tourism on a regular basis is “agri-tourism.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you will consistently find “agriculture” and “tourism” near the top of the list when it comes industries that most impact the Montana economy. But a question we get over and over is how can I participate in “agri-tourism”? There are a number of ways to participate in Montana Agriculture while you are visiting!
- Buy Montana Made Products – many of these products are “value-added” products created by farmers and ranchers throughout the state!
- Check out Abundant Montana for a directory of Montana grown food and farms to visit!
- Visit a craft brewery or distillery in the area. Many of these local businesses use local grains in their craft beverages!
- Plan a trip to a Montana Dude Ranch (this is a vacation you will want to book well in advance) or schedule a horseback trail ride while you are here.
- Get to know some of the local restaurants that serve Montana Made and Raised meals!
Today, we’d like to highlight the Old Salt Co-Op in Helena, an incredible example of Agri-Tourism in Southwest Montana!
How Helena’s Old Salt Came to Be
The name “Old Salt” has its roots in a butcher shop and restaurant combination that once existed in Portland. Unfortunately, this establishment closed its doors, but its name left a lasting impression on Cole Mannix, the visionary behind Old Salt in Helena, Montana. For Cole and the Old Salt team, this term reflects their commitment to the environment and their belief that humans have the power not only to degrade the land but also to enhance it. This realization shaped the foundation of Old Salt, where the emphasis is on building strong connections with partner ranches and local communities. They aspire to be stewards of Montana’s soil, water, and wildlife, just as a pinch of salt enhances a recipe.
“Together, we can enhance Montana’s soil, water, and wildlife just as a pinch of salt enhances a recipe.”
Old Salt is not just a name; it represents a powerful philosophy and a commitment to making positive contributions to the land, the animals, and the people it touches
The Old Salt Brands
Through the four distinct brands – Old Salt Meat Processing Co-Op, Old Salt Outpost, Old Salt Custom, and Old Salt Festival – the Old Salt Co-Op showcases the beauty of responsible ranching, sustainable processing, and delightful culinary experiences.
1. Old Salt Meat Processing Co-Op
At the core of Old Salt is the Meat Processing Co-Op, a cooperative venture owned by dedicated ranchers and workers. Their mission revolves around providing products that are unparalleled in quality while ensuring the responsible stewardship of soil, water, and wildlife habitat. The meat offered by Old Salt is exclusively sourced from partner ranches, including Sieben Livestock Co, Mannix Family Ranch, J Bar L Ranches, and LF Ranch. Each cut of meat is raised, finished, and processed right here in Montana, reflecting a true taste of the region’s fertile lands.
2. Old Salt Outpost: Some of the Best Burgers in Helena
If you find yourself wandering through the charming streets of Downtown Helena, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the delights of Old Salt Outpost. This unassuming yet stellar burger shop, nestled within The Gold Bar, is a haven for burger enthusiasts. The star of the show is, of course, their burgers, skillfully crafted using the finest beef from their ranches. The menu, though small, is a testament to the adage “quality over quantity” and features mouthwatering burgers, chili burgers, a refreshing salad, and the best beef fat fried potatoes you’ll ever taste.
3. Old Salt Custom – Processing
Old Salt Custom embodies a commitment to excellence in processing. The brand is pioneering its own vertically integrated processing facility in the Helena, Montana area. This facility has the capability to handle multiple species for custom, exempt, and USDA-inspected meat products, including wild game. Beyond catering to its own brand, Old Salt extends its services to other ranches in the region that lack sufficient access to processing facilities. This dedication to craftsmanship ensures that the products retain their authenticity and essence, creating a seamless bridge between tradition and innovation.
4. Old Salt Festival: A Celebration of Montana
In 2023, the Old Salt Festival cast its spell on attendees at the Mannix Ranch in Helmville, Montana. Spanning three vibrant days from June 23rd to 25th, the festival was a true Montana Food & Music extravaganza. The event was a delightful convergence of ranching heritage and the splendor of the wild landscapes surrounding it. The festival treated visitors to wood-fired cooking, enchanting western music & art, and engaging guest speakers on conservation. It was a celebration that left hearts full and spirits soaring. They have already starting planning the 2024 festival, stay tuned for more information!
Old Salt’s Unwavering Values
Old Salt is not just a confluence of brands; it is a philosophy that stems from a deep understanding of nature’s rhythm and a reverence for the land and its creatures. The collective acknowledges the crucial role livestock plays in maintaining ecological balance. Ruminants, like those raised by Old Salt’s partner ranches, mimic the symbiotic relationship that once existed between native ruminants and grasslands. This thoughtful approach to ranching not only yields nourishing products but also nurtures the environment, making it more fertile and habitable for diverse communities of life.
Old Salt in Helena, Montana, is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of tradition and sustainability. If you find yourself in Montana’s Capital City – Helena, embrace the opportunity to relish the flavors and values that Old Salt has to offer, a journey that promises to leave you enriched and savoring Montana’s heritage