From the coast of Brittany, the Fleur de sel from Guérande is widely considered the most highly-prized of all salts. Since 868, it is harvested by hand, raked from the salty ocean water from the Atlantic.
Fleur de sel is a ‘finishing’ salt, which means it is not used for cooking, but rather to sprinkle over food just before serving. It does wonders on salads, grilled meats and fish, over slices of melon or pineapple, even on chocolate.
Carefully guided into shallow marshes through a complex series of winding waterways, the water is held in basins called vasières to filter fish and other organisms, before being driven into narrower channels and finally into the marshes called œillets. There, a fine layer of salt collects on the surface, which is delicately raked up with a lousse à fleur de sel by specialists called paludiers, who disturb the tender crust as little as possible during the process.
Most people, even the most passionate foodies, are unaware of the existence of finishing salts. While there are many exotic types, Fleur de sel distinguishes itself by its fine, glistening and cloudy crystals, with hues ranging from grey to oyster white which comes from argile, the dense clay lining the marshes, an important factor for the resulting flavor.
Fleur de sel from Brittany contains about 10 percent residual moisture, and consequently does not melt as easily as drier salts, thus imparting in a unique, fine crunch and food combination quality. Being also very high in minerals due to the well-controlled evaporation process, it is in an extremely well-rounded, mellow finishing salt.