Fleur de sels have historically been gathered from coastal waters around France and Europe. There are many varieties, and each has its own characteristics. Fleur de sels are harvested as an amber-colored salt with a soft, milky texture. This quality allows fleur de sel to be used to season and flavour food, both on the dining table and in the kitchen. It has been used as both a healing salve and as a natural preservative. Today fleur de sel maintains a variety of cooking and baking uses in both the domestic and professional culinary markets.
Fleur de sels are generally obtained from the shore line by fishermen as the salty surface water along the coast meets the salty water of inland lakes and bays. As the salt evaporates it forms a thin, white crust on the exposed surface. Fleur de sels are typically harvested in spring and summer, although some areas can still harvest it in winter. Because this salt is so plentiful, there is a relatively high demand for it among both commercial and household users. Fleur de sels are commonly used in a variety of cooking applications, but their versatility lends them to a wide range of other uses as well.
The evaporation process of fleur de sel leaves behind a translucent white film on the salt’s surface. It is often referred to as the “seled” or fleur de sel, though in truth it is not actually fleur de sel but rather the result of the evaporation process. The white film is actually only the product of the salt’s evaporation process. Once this film dries, fleur de sel will begin to look just like regular table salt. Its flavor will vary depending on its location and the amount of moisture present, but many people enjoy the distinctive taste of fleur de sel.
As a garnish to soups, stews and salads, fleur de sel is an attractive addition. Recipes with this garnish often include onions or fresh herbs. For example, to prepare stews that are rich in taste and flavor, a thickening agent such as corn flour is added along with the broth. After adding this mixture to the pan, a garnish of fleur de sel is added to the center to enhance the rich taste of the broth. Many people choose this garnish because it adds an exceptional taste to a meal while simultaneously maintaining the nutritional value of the meal.
A popular recipe that makes use of fleur de sel involves using the stone as an additional ingredient to a savory chicken dish. Chicken is simmered in the liquid until it begins to soften, then is covered in the fleur de sel for an additional ten minutes to give it a rich taste. During the ten minutes of this process, the stone absorbs the delicious flavor of the chicken and its texture becomes velvety.
While fleur de sel is considered a rare weather conditions salt, you can use the stone as an inexpensive alternative to table salt when cooking at home. Because the stone has a wide range of textures, it does not have one specific “bite” to it that makes table salt taste bad. Instead, cooks who do not wish to add a heavy flavor salt will find that fleur de sel provides a great texture without a strong flavor. If using this type of sea salt in conjunction with a heavy cream or butter base, note that the texture can change dramatically, from coarse to waxy. This is due to the various minerals found in the stone’s color.
Fleur de sels occur naturally on the Atlantic coasts and along the Gulf Stream in warmer climates. The crystal salt is harvested by harvesting off the ocean floor and the crystals are harvested by evaporating seawater into a dry, stable soil where the natural process of evaporation can take place. The result is fleur de sel which can be used as an alternative to regular sea salt in a wide variety of recipes.
Like many other fine salts, fleur de sel contains trace minerals and the magnesium content is around two milligrams per one teaspoon of dry Sea Salt. Due to the evaporation process occurring in the seawater, no water is left behind in the soil to weigh down the salt crystals and prevent their growth. This is why this form of sea salt is much more affordable than regular sea salt. Although it is still better to buy fleur de sel from a specialist retailer as the wide variety of salts from around the world is large enough to suit everyone’s needs.