Fleur De Lis Is The Salt Of France’s Soul
Fleur de salt or fleur de sel is a salty salt which forms when water evaporates rapidly from the sea. Fleur de selt was first collected from the sea centuries ago and has been used as both a salve and a flavoring salt for cooking and other preparations. Today it is mainly used for finishing and flavoring food, although it is still used in some home-drinks.
Salts are dissolved in seawater and are carried through water by wind currents. As a result, they are not soluble in water at all. Certain chemicals such as salt and iodine, which are dissolved in seawater, are carried with the water to various locations through capillary transport. Certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, however, are insoluble in seawater and must be dissolved in water. That is why you can use fleur de sel in cooking.
The concentration of these salts in seawater varies, depending on depth. One study found that fleur de sel contained up to 85 percent of calcium chloride and up to 29 percent of magnesium chloride in seawater. These two salts are dissolved in waters by evaporating quickly, which results in tiny droplets of sodium chloride being dispersed in the air. Because of this occurrence, it is believed that they were first introduced to Europe by fishermen in the ninth century and then spread by trading with other cultures. As this salt became more widely available, it became more expensive and so was banned by some governments, while still being available in some areas.
Today, fleur de sel is used in almost every cuisine. It adds flavor to many foods, as well as maintaining the right levels of salt and minerals for good health. The natural flavor and texture of this sea salt give it a wonderful, subtle flavor that some find hard to describe. Few flavors can match the wonderful combination of rich, salty taste and soft, fresh-smelling water evaporating from the ocean.
Fleur de sels also has a reputation as being environmentally friendly. Because it is made from ground limestone and is not concentrated, the amount of salt in one pound of fleur de sel is relatively small, making it a safe product for both animal and human consumption. While this is true, there are several environmental hazards connected to the production of this sea salt. For instance, it contains trace amounts of magnesium and calcium, both considered to be hazardous to the environment. Some argue that decreasing the concentration in seawater or changing the production method would alleviate any effect on the environment, but even with this reduction, there would still be a significant impact.
Fleur de sels harvested from rocks in France contain a high concentration of iron and copper, which create a very high risk of contamination with toxic heavy metals if they are improperly disposed of. The largest concentration of these metals is found in coastal areas, and some portions of the rocky coastline have been deemed unfit for harvesting. Many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have banned the commercial harvesting of fleur de sel, due to the risks associated with its harvesting.
Fleur de sels harvested from the coasts have a relatively low moisture content, but their crystals can still clog pores, causing them to break down and lose their salt content. This is why many restaurants, caterers, and food manufacturers choose to purchase the fleur de sel directly from the ocean. Harvested from waters closer to shore, they retain less moisture, which allows them to dry more quickly and efficiently. In the case of fleur de sel harvested offshore, on opposite sides of the ocean from where the harvesting takes place, there is typically a large difference in moisture content. These crystals tend to dry out more slowly, but in both cases, the salt is depleted more quickly and must be replenished more frequently to keep the crystals from drying out and breaking down.
Many chefs and caterers choose to use fleur de sel because of its versatility. Using the salt creates a more delicate, textured taste with a subtle aroma of fresh bread or pasta. This is perfect for sauces that need to have a lower moisture content to prevent sticking or staling, as it will not contribute to this problem. As a result of its delicate texture, it pairs very well with delicate ingredients such as mushrooms, cheeses, citrus fruits, and herbs. The flavor also has a hint of iodine and is quite salty, almost like drinking brine. This makes it ideal for simmering foods such as broth and soups, or as an accompaniment to grilled food that needs to have a slightly salty taste to preserve the natural flavor.