One of Europe’s favorite sweets, fleur de sel, is considered to be a symbol of France’s rich history and culture. Unlike regular table salt, fleur de sel comes from saline waters surrounding the French region of southwestern France. Fleur de sel actually consists of the magnesium-sized crystals that form at the bottom of the sea water evaporating ponds. It can however take on an orange or grayish tint due to algae or minerals. It is also used to add a garnish to cookies and cakes.
The fleur de sel’s main origin still lies in France; however, the traditional method of harvesting was changed by the French. In olden times, the potatoes grown in the region were first hand-harvested then left on the shore until washed during the springtime. The harvesting for fleur de sel was done on the following day following rain. The newly washed potatoes or leeks were tossed into big wooden bins and then covered with straw, making sure not to let any fall into the water. As time passed by, more potatoes would be harvested until, after several centuries, the salts had turned black.
During the Middle Ages, the fleur de sel trade became more competitive due to the introduction of new crops as well as the draining of marshlands. Marsh lands had been drained to provide water for the massive farming industry in France. The drainage of marsh lands was done in order to help farmers and city dwellers with easy access to fresh sea-water. During this time, the fleur de sel trade gradually increased until today, even though it had become a major issue for centuries.
Today, it has become increasingly popular because not only is fleur de sel a great cooking medium but the salt itself is highly valued for its healing properties. Most doctors suggest taking an average sea salt in order to achieve effective health benefits. However, a great alternative to ordinary sea salt is fleur de sel; the seawater fleur de sel contains a lot of minerals like sodium, magnesium and potassium, which help in maintaining the health of our bodies. It has also been discovered that people who have taken fleur de sel regularly have lesser incidences of ear infections, respiratory problems, asthma and other such ailments. These benefits are proving extremely beneficial and useful to many people.
France is not only known for its delicious pastries but also for its amazing taste in the taste buds. Although most franschhoppes are traditionally made from eggs and butter, fleur de sel beats all these expectations and proves to be a better choice of food. There are several reasons behind this huge popularity of fleur de sel. The fact that fleur de sel contains more magnesium and potassium than an egg helps in maintaining better balance in the electrolytes of our body which in turn prevents us from falling sick. Also, it is known to prevent the formation of kidney stones; hence people with kidney problems are suggested to take this salt daily.
Another significant aspect about fleur de sel, which is not at all obvious is the fact that it has a unique flavor. The flavor of fleur de sel varies according to where the seawater is acquired from. Usually the flavor of this sea salty is known to be a little bitter and salty. But in some places like northern part of France, where the climate is so cold and so much chilly, the taste of this sea salt gets completely different. This bitter taste is mainly due to the lack of oxygen in that area and also due to the lack of bacteria in that area.
People who really love to cook elaborate recipes using fleur de sel are of two minds regarding the seasoning of their recipes. One category of people loves the bitter taste of fleur de sel, while another likes the flavor of it and appreciates its freshness. People who really enjoy cooking elaborate recipes using fleur de sel always keep an extra supply on hand and use this sea salt to prepare those recipes. The flavor of fleur de sel can be preserved for long if it is kept in air tight glass containers or plastic bags and is also perfect for serving it to family and friends on special occasions. The reason as to why this finishing salt has been used since ancient times to preserve food is because of its delectable flavor which is known to appeal to almost everyone.
Fleur de sels can be harvested in the regions of southern France like along the Loire Valley and also in Provence. Although it is a harvesting product of marine origin, the salts from these shells are used in various cooking recipes across Europe and even the United States. Many restaurants, hotels, bakeries and catering services have their own unique recipes using this popular salt and you can find them served on almost every table during any party. The harvesting of fleur de sel used to be a very labor-intensive process and it took years to harvest just one pound of shell but today harvesting these shells can be done in a few hours from harvest to sale.