FLEUR DE SEL: THE TREASURE OF THE SALT MARSHES ON YOUR PLATE
The flower of salt from the salt marshes of the Guerande region of Brittany, is naturally white, rare and of exceptional quality. Unwashed and uncrushed, its crystals preserve their natural richness. The incomparable flavour of Le Guerande Fleur de Sel is particularly popular with gourmets and chefs.
Where does Guérande fleur de sel come from?
Guérande fleur de sel comes from the artisanal salt marshes of the Guérande peninsula. The agricultural harvest of salt in this region has been practiced since around 400 BC.
The salt marshes of Guerande have remained small family, artisanal farms that are today grouped together in cooperatives where the salt workers themselves manage the marketing of their products. The harvest of sea salt and fleur de sel is always done by hand, using traditional tools.
Great chefs have called the Fleur de Sel 'white gold" because of the way it can reveal the taste of the ingredients in your recipes. Fleur de Sel is featured on the menu of many starred restaurants to the delight of gourmets.
How is Guérande Fleur de Sel produced?
From October to February, the salt workers prepare the soil of the salt marshes. These large areas are made up of small basins separated by clay bridges. At the beginning of spring, they channel sea water (loaded with 35g of salt per litre) into the carnations - the other name given to crystallisation ponds.
Under the effect of the sun, heat and wind, the sea water gradually evaporates and the salt concentration in the water increases: the water turns into brine. Brine, or mother liquor, is in fact the name given to water that is highly concentrated in natural salt after evaporation.
When the water is transformed into mother liquor, the salt crystallisation takes place. This is when the harvest begins, as soon as the sunny days arrive and continues, as long as the weather conditions allow, until the beginning of autumn.
Coarse Sea Salt and Fleur de Sel do not form the same way.
The crystallisation of the coarse salt takes place on the clay base of the slat pans where it is loaded up with trace elements. This is what gives it its characteristic grey colour.
The fleur de sel appears on the surface of the basins in the form of a thin opalescent film. It is the result of several natural factors: dry and sunny weather swept by an easterly wind which causes the formation of inverted pyramidal crystals which float on the surface of the water.
A true treasure of the salt marshes, fleur de sel is very fragile. Its harvest depends largely on the weather: if it rains while it is forming or just after, the fleur de sel disappears. It is a rare commodity, a precious gift from nature.
How do you collect Guérande Fleur de Sel?
Picking the fleur de sel takes place using the lousse, a tool that could be compared to a skimmer attached to a long handle that allows the salt worker to collect the salt from the edge of the basins. The salt worker slides the lousse to the surface with a confident gesture, because the slightest jerk would be fatal to the harvest of a whole carnation.
What is special about the Fleur de Sel from the Le Guérandais cooperative?
It is made purely by hand at the end of the afternoon, as the sun is dropping in the sky, according to a know-how passed down from generation to generation
Guérande fleur de sel is a 100% natural salt, without added and unprocessed. After harvest, it is drained for 2 to 3 years before being offered for sale.
Since 1989, the Le Guerandais cooperative has joined the Nature & Progress Federation, which advocates the practice of peasant agriculture, a sharing economy on a human scale and respect for the environment. It is equivalent to an "organic standard".
By choosing Le Guérande fleur de sel, you are choosing to support an agricultural practice that respects the natural balance in the environment and emits very little CO2 and supports a traditional way of living that has been sustained in the region for of thousands of years.
What is the difference between salt, coarse salt and fleur de sel from Guérande?
- Coarse salt forms on the bottom eyelets. In contact with clay soil, it becomes loaded with trace elements, which is what gives it its characteristic grey colour. The salt workers collect much more coarse salt than fleur de sel, because it is a more dense salt and less sensitive to weather hazards. Coarse salt is used in cooking, to salt the water for cooking pasta, rice or vegetables, or for cooking in crusts. I t contains a full complement of natural, organic minerals that are present in the sea (the source of all life on earth).
- Ground sea salt is actually the coarse salt, but ground. Only fleur de sel and coarse salt exist in their natural state.
- Fleur de Sel is a natural salt with a finer and more delicate structure than the coarse salt. It arises from the crystallisation of the salt on the surface of the water, under the impulse of the wind. Fragile, it is more difficult to harvest and requires special attention. It is used sparingly at the end of cooking to enhance a dish.
Fleur de sel is used for seasoning after cooking. It is a delicate table salt that subtly enhances everyday dishes and your festive meals. A wonderful natural flavour enhancer, fleur de sel goes well with all savoury dishes and brings depth to caramel or chocolate-based pastries.
How to store Guérande Fleur de Sel?
Fleur de sel is a non-perishable product. Ideally, it should be stored in a stoneware or terracotta pot so that it retains all its taste properties. Why not store yours in a beautiful Miron glass jar? In all cases, it is preferable to keep the fleur de sel away from humidity because it does not contain any additives and therefore risks trapping ambient humidity.