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TRAD Y SEL Guérande salt is a 100% traditional product, harvested by hand every day during summer from authentic salt works, maintained in their original state by generations of "paludiers" (salt workers). Our product is harvested with the same tools as those used over the centuries. It is additive-free.
As such, it is not comparable with other pseudo-traditional industrial salts which have arrived on the market over the past decades.
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In the absence of legislation defining the product, we have a generic term:
"that which forms on the surface of a liquid" is the definition given in most dictionaries, as opposed to that which falls within the liquid or to the bottom.
In our case, flower of salt is crystallisation from a saturated saline solution, which occurs, like many changes in physical states, in the colder zones. For flower of salt, this happens on the surface where the air is colder than the sun-heated water, whereas for coarse salt, it is at the bottom where the clay is cool.
The crystals obtained are completely different: small inversed pyramids, crumbly and transient for flower of salt, and clumps of harder cubes, depending on the time they spend in the water, for coarse salt.
To enable production in the salt marshes, it is necessary to have shallow crystallisation ponds, of small size to avoid ripples, which if there is wind, would cause the flower of salt to sink.
If it does reach the bottom, it continues to crystallise, in a similar way to a coarse salt, in hard cubes, but in an organised way and not in clumps. It is a coarse salt crystallised around a flower of salt embryo. This product, however, does not correspond to the definition of flower of salt!
Whilst flower of salt cannot be produced by heating brine in an oven, after long periods of hot weather, when the clay bed is as hot as the water, our salt works produce a great deal, as the coarse salt no longer crystallises and the salt marshes are covered with flower of salt.
The true flower of salt is therefore unquestionably produced by a different crystallisation, and this is what imparts its quality and specific nature.
Flower of salt comes from surface crystallisation, so why use the term "fleur" (flower) to talk about the surface? The reason is because it is found in the French words affleurer (to appear at the surface), effleurer (to lightly touch), à fleur de (on the surface of)...
The term is also found in "fleur de l'âge" (in the prime of life), defined by the Larousse dictionary as: "the freshness and spontaneity of one's beginnings". A real flower is transient and fragile, which gives its beauty.
It is an evident term for this rare product, which appears with the first gust of wind and disappears with the cool of the night.
True flower of salt must be harvested "à fleur d'eau" (skimmed from the surface), by hand, to avoid losing its specific characteristics.
The mechanically-harvested industrial products which invade the market do not merit the designation 'flower of salt'. To mention only the biggest producers, "pseudo" flower of salt from the south of France, is harvested from grains which may have spent several months in the water. This is not an exception as most "flowers" from Spain and Portugal are produced in the same way.
TRAD Y SEL Guérande flower of salt is made up of fine, light crystals which form on the surface of the crystallisation ponds ("oeillets"). With the wind, they collect in wide layers. This special crystallisation only takes place during the hottest summer days, when the mother waters are brought to very high temperatures. The slightest moisture would make the crystals sink, so harvesting can only take place during very dry weather. In the same way, the dampness of the night is sufficient to sink the fine crystals formed during the day.
Harvesting takes place every evening, using a traditional wooden tool called a "lousse". It is a plank, chamfered on the sides, and fixed to its handle at an oblique. Traditionally, this long, delicate job was reserved for women. The flower is gathered by delicately skimming the surface of the mother water. The salt is brought to the top of the lousse, and placed in a basket or wheelbarrow, to be transported to the "trémet" (platform) where it drains. It must lose 20% of its water before being sold.
Flower of salt has many different aspects. Its crumbly crystals have the shape of small hollow pyramids with the point at the bottom; grains can vary in size from a couple of tenths to several millimetres at the side (up to 6 mm). Their colour can vary from white to light grey, passing through rose (colour due to the presence of extreme salt-loving micro-organisms). The quality of the product comes from a rigorous selection by hand, and not from mechanical selection such as sieving.
Some people eat flower of salt fresh, damp and rose (which gives the best flavour), others prefer white and dry, but whatever your preference, it will satisfy your palate. In addition to its colour, its main characteristic is its particular flavour, due to the subtle mix of its mineral and plant components and the presence on the surface of the mother waters of small algae such as dunaliella salina which give flavour and its violet aroma.
Unlike grey salt, all these characteristics are from alchemy rather than know-how. The salt worker is just a catalyser, with the role of bringing together the elements for this transformation, and delicately harvesting the fruit of nature.
In the Guérande peninsula, coarse salt is crumbly and naturally rich in mineral salts. This composition and the presence of marine microflora give it its particular taste. Grey salt is unwashed, unrefined and additive-free. Its richness gives it the characteristic of rehydrating in the presence of moisture.
TRAD Y SEL Guérande coarse grey salt is harvested every day in summer from the clay beds of the salt marshes. This specific nature gives it its grey colour, which must not be too pronounced, and its porous, crumbly crystals. During harvesting, the saturated mother waters settle in the grain.
Macronutrients and oligo elements are trapped when it dries. Grey salt is not washed or refined, as these soluble elements would be the first to disappear.
Guérande salt has the characteristic of hydrating very rapidly, by absorbing moisture in the air.
Once harvested, the Guérande coarse grey salt is stored for 1 to 2 years in dedicated warehouses at the salt works or delivered to TRAD Y SEL ready for processing. It will be processed to obtain several products: