Fleur de sels are sea salts harvested from the waters surrounding the coast of Eastern Europe. Fleur de sels are often used in conjunction with other materials such as herbs, to give a salty taste and feel to sea food and beverages. In fact, the word fleur de sel first appeared in France in the 14th century. It gained popularity in other European countries over the centuries and began being used for cooking and baking in the United States.
Fleur de sels are formed as an icy thin crust when water evaporates from seawater as it passes through the soil. The crystals are harvested as they begin to grow, and are used for various products including seasoning and baking in the United States. They have a light salty flavor, but one with complexity and depth of flavor. Fleur de sels harvested from the Black Sea are known for their ability to add subtle nuances of licorice to salty dishes. Other types of fleur de sel found in Europe include the Greek “Tsivertos”, the Italian “Gavazzi” and the Turkish “Tufaniki”.
Fleur de sels are produced from magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate reacts with water and produces sodium hydroxide, or NaOH. The amount of sodium hydroxide in the crystals depends upon the size and concentration of the fleur de sel crystals being used. Because of this inherent volatility, fleur de sel should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and high humidity. The crystals can crack when exposed to high temperatures, so temperature control is important when using the salt.
The salt dissolves in water and the presence of air or oxygen increases its concentration in the salt. This makes the salt slightly bitter, similar to anise-flavored sodas. Because it is bitter, fleur de sel should not be consumed in large amounts. Most chefs enjoy the salty taste of the salt. They enjoy it so much that they use it in much of their recipes.
Fleur de sels have been found in fleur marshes throughout France, as well as the coastal area surrounding the city of Cannes. The best fleur de sel is harvested from the coasts, but it is also possible to obtain it on the inland regions as well. For example, the southern part of Loire produces some of the best salts, which are often included in regional cuisine. Some of these salts are rubbed on pastas to enhance the flavor.
Fleur de sels are produced throughout France, even outside the coastal region. The most sought after salt is still harvested in the southern part of the country. Many people prefer to use the inland marshes for fleur de sel, although they are also available in other areas. It may seem difficult to find hand-harvested fleur de sel, especially in smaller towns, but the quality is worth searching for. The salt can also be collected from rivers, although this is much harder to do.
In rural areas, cliffs are often used to deposit the salt, which is then carried further distances by birds. In larger towns, buildings or shallow pools are used to deposit the salt, but it is much easier to collect the fleur de sel from the ocean. Smaller puddles are good places to find the salts, but coastal marshes are still among the best places. The salts are very concentrated, which means that a little salt is wasted every time it is harvested.
The fleur de sel industry is big business, and while the practice of harvesting and using coarse sea salt has been banned in some countries, it is still widely used. It continues to be harvested from the coasts in several countries around the world. It’s one of the planet’s best-kept secrets!