Fluoride crystals were discovered around 1790 by accident, when a scientist named Louis Pasteur was looking for a better way to salt water. He mixed sulfuric acid with an element called silica, which created a solution. Later, he realized that this newly created salt had great potential. Pasteur envisioned using the fluid to clean the teeth and gums of children who suffered from cavities. He hoped that this new substance could help them prevent tooth decay.
Fleur de sels are actually quite rare, as their mineral content is extremely low. Most sea fleur de sel harvested from lakes, rivers, and oceans contains high amounts of sulfates, iron, and chloride. The high moisture content of seawater made this a prime location to harvest fleur de sel, but the lack of pure minerals makes the salt less desirable. As a result, the harvesting of fleur de sel is done mostly from seaweeds and corals.
Fleur de sels are best found in warm, shallow pools. The optimal location is somewhere in between shore and deep water, because they are at their most stable during warmer weather. The fleur de sel harvesting takes place during the summer months, when sunlight is strongest. For optimal health, the salt is allowed to settle to the bottom of the ocean, away from deeper currents. It is harvested near shoreline reefs, which are rich in calcium and magnesium.
Fleur de sels have unique characteristics. They are extremely salty, with a crunchy outside texture, and a soft interior flavor. The grains are wide, and they vary in size, from a very fine grain to coarse, making them great for baking or cooking. For example, in France they are often mixed with flour, and in Mexico with Chiles and chili powder; in Louisiana with white-fish or crawfish fat.
Fleur de sels are produced by nature’s most elegant, yet understated creatures. These silvery grains taste surprisingly like sugar, with hints of licorice and vanilla. Because they contain no carbon or sulfur, these salts are not as offensive to the body as more powerful sea salts such as rock salt or sea salt, making them safe for consumption by most people. Most often fleur de sel are harvested from areas that experience little environmental pressure from humans.
Their translucent color allows you to see the interior layer, where the salt has settled and started to take on its own properties. As it settles further, you can now taste the delicate crystalline grains, sometimes described as “candy like” in flavor, but with a faint salty undertone. In the most humid parts of the world, these salts retain much of their moisture content, retaining a slightly salty taste, much like that of seawater. They are also known as salty almonds.
Most sea fleur de sel crystals will settle after being exposed to the sea water for around twenty-one days. It is during this period when the crystals begin to acquire the fine mineral coating found on the grains of sand that makes up the sea floor. This coating gives fleur de sel its salty taste. Many seafood enthusiasts enjoy salty almonds at meals, along with grilled salmon, or even on sandwiches. Their salty taste masks any other taste a person may pick up, while providing a delicious salty alternative to sea foods such as fish.
This salty alternative to regular salt is widely available and can be found in most grocery stores or larger chain grocery stores. It comes in either salt brine or sea salt, both of which work well in salting water. Many people use fleur de sel in place of regular table salt because it maintains the natural flavor of seafood and other sea foods. Although sea salt brine is quite expensive, it is an effective and environmentally responsible way to season food. Fleur de sels are a versatile product that can be used for cooking, baking, or seasoning seafood or other sea food items.