Many people have a love/hate relationship with salt. They love the taste but do their best to avoid eating it for health reasons. Me, I’m a fan.
Guérande is the centre of France’s salt industry. It lies just a few kilometres inland from the bay of La Baule in the Loire-Atlantique department on the country’s western coast.
The tradition of salt-making in the area dates back over 1,000 years and still uses the same techniques today.
Precise quantities of sea water are siphoned through a network of marshes. After a couple of kilometres, evaporation has left the salt ready to collect. It is then dried over a period of three years.
“Fleur de sel is a more refined product. Warm weather and wind combine to create the delicate white grain”
Two types of salt emerge as a result: grey salt and its more valuable cousin, fleur de sel.
Grey salt has attained its colour as a result of the local grey clay and is used mainly for cooking.
Fleur de sel is a more refined product and is available in much less supply – about one kilo is produced for every ten of grey salt. Warm weather and wind combine to create the delicate white grain. It is saved for use at the table only.
I have run out of fleur de sel at home so it is on my list of things to seek out while I am in France later this month. However, I’ll have to content myself with buying it in a delicatessen or supermarket – sadly, I won’t have the time to make it to Guérande.