In our most recent August box “Summer in Provence”, we included a ceramic pot of Fleur de Sel from Camargue, also known as “flower of salt” in French. We chose this specialty from the south of France because of its taste, delicacy and prevalence in French cooking & serving.
We partnered with artisan producer L’Epicerie de Provence for our fleur de sel because we love their dedication to quality bio products, and their family business mindfulness. The salt itself comes from the Camargue, which is a marsh region in the south known for excellent salt production (and also for the pink pools of water where the salt forms). The family mixes these fine salts with Provencal herbs for the perfect garnish.
Fleur de Sel itself is a salt that forms as a thin, delicate crust on the surface of seawater as evaporates. The name comes from the flower like patterns of crystals in the salt crust. It is hand harvested and there is no processing or refining. To catch the salts, shallow basins of about 6 inches are flooded with sea water which is then allowed to evaporate. During this process, crystals form on the surface. This is an extremely delicate process, as the slightest wind or movement on the water causes the salt to sink. If it sinks, the salt becomes what we know as “Sel Gris” , the sea salt that has a grey color which it obtains from the bottom of these shallow pools.
The smaller percentage of salts which are able to fully form on the surface of the water are the crystallized Fleur de Sel, which is white in color because it remains on the surface. It is considered the least salty part of the salt and the hardest to harvest. With a harvest of 80 pounds of “Sel Gris”, there will only be 1 to 3 pounds of “Fleur de Sel”.
In terms of cooking with Fleur de Sel, it is suggested as a finishing salt, something to be sprinkled on the food right before serving to preserve the natural texture and taste which is too delicate for cooking. Some choice dishes to serve with Fleur de Sel would be a Caprese Salad, fresh summer melon or a chocolate cake for that perfect salt finish.