Fleur de sel is sea salt derived from the evaporated water of the sea. It’s often called sea salt or marine sulfate. It’s most commonly used as a seasoning in cooking, baking, cosmetics and even for preserving food. It’s also known as red or rock salt, solar rock salt or sea salt.
Like other sea salts, it’s formed by evaporation from seawater. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind suspended particles and minerals in the form of crystal salt (often referred to as crystal fleur de sel) that settles on the surface of the ocean bottom. Over time these materials will refract light and change into a reddish-brown colour. As a result, this salt produces a beautiful rainbow effect on food as it enhances the colouring of seafood and meats. But sea salt ponds hold more promise for using it as a natural preservative, as it has a very long shelf life.
As its name suggests, fleur de sel is used primarily for cooking and seasoning. The term is also used to describe the sea urchin, a delicacy caught mostly in the cold Atlantic waters off the coast of France. Despite its close proximity to shore, it’s unusual to find this fish caught commercially, as it’s caught bycatch mostly in wild circumstances. The rich flavour of this fish comes from the high concentrations of minerals and salt content of the fish flesh. So fleur de sel is often used in place of butter or margarine in French cooking and is often included in fusions and marinades.
Though the salt’s origins go back to the early Egyptians, its real origins can be found further south in the Mediterranean. Fleur de sel is part of the larger group of salts called the Mediterranean Salt. Its popularity in Europe has waned over the years but it’s rising popularity in the rest of the world means it deserves a better description. Sea salt is harvested from the Dead Sea salt pools, which are located about an hour east of Jerusalem, Israel. This region is rich in mineral richness including sulphur, potassium, magnesium and sodium chloride.
For decades, the Dead Sea salt and its salts have been recognised for their healing properties, but recent research has suggested they can also have positive effects for our bodies. The Dead Sea salt can be used in a variety of ways. In addition to its use for cooking and seasoning, it can be added to water for de-mineralizing your water supply (this is particularly useful in San Francisco). You can also add it to your bath water to cleanse your pores and keep your skin soft and youthful looking. It’s a natural sanitizer for those suffering from acne or other skin conditions.
Fleur De Sel Sea salt comes in a range of prices depending on the type of stone it is made from. Like many natural ingredients, the price does vary depending on where it is sourced, how it is prepared and what production processes are used. For example, the rocks in the Dead Sea are not as fine grained as those in La Grande Rivere; therefore there is more of a variance in price. Some stones that are kosher certified are much more expensive than fleur de sel mined from the same place.
There is some controversy around fleur de lis sea salt, with some claiming it to be fake because the fleur de lis is actually dead. Others say it is real because it is the symbol for Israel and if the Jews ever decided to separate from Israel, they would tear down the symbol. However, those who support the product claim that it is an historic symbol that has historical significance. Fleur De Sel Sea salt is therefore a highly debated topic.
Regardless of which side you fall on, fleur de lis is a fascinating fleur de sel ingredient that can be used in many recipes. If you enjoy cooking with sea salts then adding this one to your recipe can be a fun way to incorporate a salty taste into your cooking. You will most likely enjoy the taste of fleur de sel for many years to come.