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Salts of the World

Part 8 of 8

Off to Portugal, two regional salts – Sal de Tavira and Flor de Sal de Tavira, are harvested in the Ria Formosa Natural Park as it is one of few places in the region that is uncontaminated by industrial and agricultural processes. These two salts are similar in that they come from the same pans, but what makes them different is their harvesting method and their mineral content.

Flor de Sal de Tavira is a delicately fine sea salt that is harvested by skimming the top of the water surface with a special tool called a “Coador,” which is a finer strainer of sorts. It has to be skimmed so skillfully as to not cause ripples in the surface which would cause the top layer to sink. If this happens they would have to wait for another layer to form on the water. This type of salt is so delicate that it almost melts in your fingers with slight friction.

 

Sal de Tavira is a coarser salt that is harvested deeper in the salt pans using a different tool called a “rodo”, which looks to be somewhat of a hybrid between a rake and a squeegee. This salt has a higher mineral content because it contains all of the sedimentary material that has been left near the bottom of the salt pans. The salt pans of Tavira are separated into three different types of holding areas. One for holding fresh seawater so that it does not escape as the tide goes out, a second for evaporation and settling out of impurities, and the third for the concentration of brine and collection. All holding areas are hand cleaned by harvesters on a regular basis.

Because of the way the pans are laid out and the harvesting processes, the salts do not have to be rinse or clarified for any impurities before being packages for sale. The natural filtering process leaves a salt with a high mineral content as well as a very good source of natural iodine. Historical uses of these salts have been primarily for seafood preservation, but today they are used in many ways from an all-purpose kitchen salt to a finishing salt for seafood and meats.

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