Salts of the World
Part 2 of 8
Our first region of France brings us several different types of sea salt. Fleur de Sel, meaning “Flower of Salt” is the finest one can purchase if you can afford it at $15-20 per pound. It is so costly because of the method of harvest. Fleur de Sel is harvest from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany by raking the thin salt crystals off of the surface of the water with wooden rakes before it sinks to the bottom of the tidal pools. It has a slight grey tint to it because of the ocean minerals but is very faint due to harvesting methods. This salt makes a wonderful finishing salt for seafood and even fine chocolates, some would say to use it on everything since it is so tasty and delicate…if you can afford the price for everyday use.
Sel Gris, “grey salt” and Gros Sel “large salt”, also from France, are sometimes known as French Grey Salt or Celtic Sea salt. They are both harvested by raking the salt after it has sunken in the tidal pools, which makes these salts deeper in color and flavor since there are more minerals near the bottom. These types have larger grains and retain part of their moisture. Aside from being used as a finishing salt, these two types can also be used in cook and baking processes.
A third type of sea salt harvesting that can be found in French regions or any salt water region around the world is “flake salt”. After sea water is raked, the remaining, more clarified water can be boiled to evaporate the moisture until all that’s left is flakes of salt. This type is not coarse or fine grained, but comes in thin sheets or flakes and is low in mineral content making it very easy to dissolve once wet. A common use for flake salt is as a finish on cooked meats or seafood because it melts into the surface.