The History Of French Salt
Fleur de Sel is an old traditional French salt from a salt pan excavated in La belle-vardieres, in eastern France. It is salty even by international standards, so a little salt won’t hurt. Learn more about this fascinating salty and how to best utilize it as a Mother s Day gift to bring a touch of Paris to your loved mother’s special day. Enjoy the sweetness of this French delight!
Fleur de sel has been around for many centuries as an important salt source for the French. The word is also known as “fissure de sel” which means “bay salt”. There are many versions of the origin of the name and of the salt itself, but all agree on the fact that this salt is harvested from salt pans which are located in the high desert areas of southwestern France, in the departments of Roussillon and Bordeaux. The pans are often lined with a coarse salt mixture to aid in the harvesting process and also to help prevent the pans from rusting while still maintaining the essential saltiness of the product. These pans are kept in open places where they will be exposed to the sun, allowing the salt to evaporate quickly.
The harvesting process of fleur de sel is delicate, indeed. These pans are harvested only once each year, so every few years, a new location is found for their harvest and another pans is chosen. Each pan is carefully selected for its size and type of grain. As the grain in the bottom of the pan begins to evaporate, it is collected by a specialized device and moved to a drying facility. The French call this process “salt augmentation”, since each pan is hand-selected and each grain harvested is highly fragile, with the grain changing consistency depending on the weather conditions of the specific region where it is grown.
Harvesting process is not only highly labor-intensive, but also time consuming. Salt grinders must be used, and even then, efficiency can be very difficult to judge. For every grain, there is at least one worker who must do the grinding, and many times more. In this way, it is no wonder that the quality of the product is such an issue. Each grain is hand-picked, and the process is slow, requiring many hours of preparation before the product is ready for sale.
The texture of French salt, or salt de salaudieres as it is commonly called, has undergone several changes throughout history. Originally, this salt was harvested from river rocks which had crystal grains. This process was said to have caused the first occurrence of table salt in the New World. Today, it is harvested from clay pots, river pebbles, and crystals. It is also thought that during the Medieval Times, this mineral was refined by boiling and distilling.
As crystal salt was refined, the fleur de lis became more prevalent. This symbolized the salt flower. Fleur de lis crystals are especially collected during certain seasons, like summer, and red garnet is said to represent spring. It was also during this time that salt lamps began to be used. The crystals were burned in the lamps, releasing negative ions and healing properties within the lamp. These properties were also thought to help with the curing of illness and disease.
Today, salt flowers are often seen on kitchen table salt, but they are now known to be representative of spring as well. At first glance, they may look like fleur de lis crystals. In fact, this is quite common. But because of the way that salt is mined and prepared today, these salt flowers are actually considered fine specimens. And just like any other specimen, it is important to add just the right amount of minerals to the correct concentration to make a quality salt flower.
French salt comes in many different styles and colors. However, you will find that they have become increasingly more popular over the years because they are not only beautiful but they are also healthier than table salt. They are considered to be a gourmet grade mineral that has greater mineral content than standard table salts. They are a perfect addition to any kitchen and can be used to add color to anything from soups to meats.