The difference between table salt and sea salt is that table salt usually comes from rock salt, which is mined from mineral deposits. Sea salt is the result of a seawater crystallization process and, to maximize the harvest process, the traditional salt flats are divided into two parts: evaporation and crystallization ponds. Starting in spring, seawater flows into the Salinas (salt gardens). The water passes through the evaporation zone, the largest of the two, in which solar energy is used to evaporate 80% of the process water. From there the water flows towards the crystallization zone where the salt precipitates.

The first salt under the ‘microscope’ is Portuguese pure white sea salt. The Salt Pans found along the beautiful Algarve coast in southern Portugal were designed by the Romans. The facility we visited is located on the outskirts of the small town of Belamandil. It is a great example of how this tradition was brought back to life.

In historical times, sea salt was used to preserve foods such as salt cod, herring, etc. it became a vital part of the trade between the countries of southern and northern Europe. The importance of salt was so great that the Portuguese recaptured Brazil, then occupied by the Dutch, exchanging it for salt.

Unlike industrial salt pans, the salt solution from traditional salt pans reaches the crystallization area at about 150 g/l and never comes out; in May the salt content has risen to 250 g/l and the salt begins to clump up. This allows the macro and trace elements that crystallize between 170 g/l and 250 g/l to form, including magnesium salts that crystallize after sodium chloride. This is similar to the aging process for wine or any other food that improves over time.

It contains more than 75 minerals and trace elements that give salt its unique flavor and aroma. Medical science has known for many years that these minerals are necessary for the optimal functioning of the body. Sea Salt is a good alternative to taking artificial mineral supplements.

The seed crystals that form each day on the warm surface of the salt crystallization ponds will become the Fleur de Sel (salt flowers). Using a large scoop-shaped cloth filter, workers gently harvest a thin layer of salt that floats on the water. This was formerly collected by the workers of the salt flats for domestic consumption, and they called it “salt cream”, since it is collected from the surface of the salt flats, like cream floating on milk.

Fleur de Sel (Flor do Sal in Portuguese) has a bouquet that naturally highlights the flavors of food, making it the ideal product for the most demanding gourmets. Use Fleur de Sel on simple things like salads, fried eggs, hashbrowns, and adding Fleur de Sel after grilling makes meat more tender, juicy, and flavorful.

The number 2 we are investigating is Guerande’s Fleur de Sel Sea Salt. An all-natural sea salt from Brittany, France. This particular fleur de sel is harvested by hand in the town of Guerande between May and September. We visited Guerande at the end of July. It is the perfect place for a quiet vacation.

The rugged part of France that faces the Atlantic is not polluted by tourists. The coastline is simply beautiful – large rock formations are stacked everywhere, providing plenty of opportunities to take in the magnificent view of the ocean. If you love food and traveling, this is a place you will never forget because of the charming seaside towns with lovely little restaurants serving local food and fish.

The Guerande salt fields are long and narrow. A so-called ‘paludier artisan’ (salt collector) sweeps the upper part of the seawater that evaporates to collect the salt. It is rich in trace elements, the taste is the complex balance of the sea and its minerals, the texture is that of small scaly crystals of a slightly grey/pink color. Like the Portuguese fleur de sel, this sea salt is typically used to finish a dish, as a seasoning, rather than as a spice.

Number 3 is Red Sea salt from Hawaii

Where does the reddish tint come from? The reason is that ‘Alaea’ is added to the salt during the harvesting process. This gives a slight orange/brown tint to the salt, which is completely tasteless and also odorless. By adding ‘Alaea, you significantly increase the health benefits of this salt. ‘Alaea is made up of over 80 different minerals that no other salt provides.

In ancient Hawaii, on the island of what is now Kauai, red volcanic clay called Alaea “encountered” sea salt when, during heavy rains, red clay sediment seeped into the ocean from Kauai’s rivers. When this red ocean water became trapped in tide pools, evaporation created Red Alaea Hawaiian sea salt.

According to Hawaiians, ‘Alaea Sea Salt tastes much better than any white salt, including ‘Fleur De Sel’ from France or Portugal, but after a test at home, I decided I like all three sea salts. The flavor of all three is different, and this is what I do with them:

– Salads, sauces, white fish, vegetables, fried eggs – Hawaiian or Portuguese sea salt

– Steak, grilled items such as chicken, ribs, French fries – Guerande sea salt

– Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring – – Guerande or Portuguese sea salt

So try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

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