Guérande Fleur de Sel and sea salt have been produced in the Pays de la Loire and Brittany regions of France for a long time now. The Sel de Guérande is renowned for being 100% natural, unwashed and without additives. Both coarse sea salt and salt flowers have become some essential elements of the Pays de la Loire and French gastronomy.
Guérande Salt Producers' Cooperative have been checking the sea salt and salt flowers production in Pays de la Loire for many years. The authentic refined Sel de Guérande originates from the Western French marshes, a kind of circuit made of various ponds, whose structure has been formed by the climate and topography of the soil.
The original Guérande sea salt production started with Landévennec Abbey monks who studied the tides around 945 and designed a plan of the salt works. Their impressive project of "open-air factory" was a great success in the Guérande area.
Since then the production techniques of coarse sea salt and salt flowers have been improved but the particularity of the Sel de Guérande is that it is still made by salt workers respecting the authentic expertise and know-how.
Twice a day, during summer high tides, the sea flows into the Guérande marshes, the salt workers open a valve to let the water achieve the first pond called "vasière". Then a precise process begins, the salted water passing through the different ponds.
The production is at its best when the weather combines wind and sun: under the effect of evaporation, the salt is concentrated to a level of to 280 g/l, then crystallises in the "œillets" specific ponds and later, it is deposited on clay. The large wooden rake used by the French salt workers to finally push the salt to the edges of the pond is known as a "las".
Sea Salt or Salt Flowers?
When salt workers pull the salt onto the round platform made of clay and let it drain for a night, the Guérande coarse salt gets its grey colour.
On the contrary, the salt flower results from the thin layer of crystallised salt formed on the surface of the “œillets”. This delicate layer of fine, snow-like crystals (which have never touched clay) is attentively gathered by the salt worker using a "lousse à fleur".
The Fleur de Sel is formed under specific weather conditions and, provided the small quantity produced, Guérande Salt Flowers are considered as being a rare, valuable product.
Such techniques guarantee the Sel de Guérande quality and authenticity - for which it is considered as being the most refined salt in the world.
Whether fleur de sel or coarse ground salt, Pays de la Loire's product is indeed highly appreciated by food experts and Chefs. Healthier than basic salts, it offers all the sea's natural richness with a low sodium content.
Now essential in terms of Gastronomy, French salt flowers and coarse salt enhance the flavour while preserving the food's original taste. Guérande salt is perfect to season refreshing starters and refined fish dishes, but meat eaters also commonly use it to complement a tender grilled steak.