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Fleur de Sel

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Definition: Fleur de Sel is a rare and expensive form of sea salt that is harvested in parts of France. The name fleur de sel is from the French for "flower of salt."

Fleur de Sel is produced by collecting the thin layer of salt that rises to the surface of shallow pools of seawater along the coast of France, mainly but not exclusively in the Brittany region. Similar high-end sea salts are produced in parts of Spain, Portugal and the U.K.

Because it forms naturally under certain very limited weather conditions, and because it must be skimmed off by hand, fleur de sel is, by any estimation, an extremely expensive product — $30 per pound or even more.

This high cost means that fleur de sel shouldn't be used as an ordinary seasoning. Instead, think of fleur de sel as almost a garnish or condiment. A few crystals of fleur de sel sprinkled over a dish right before serving add a burst of flavor, visual appeal and even texture.

Fleur de sel is very delicate and will quickly dissolve, so it really should be added to a dish immediately before serving. One interesting use of fleur de sel is sprinkling it on candies, for example caramels, or other sweet items, like creme brulee, which both heightens and contrasts the sweetness.

See Also: Kosher Salt
Pronunciation: flure-de-SELL
Also Known As: Fleur de Sel de Guerande
Alternate Spellings: Flor de sal (Spanish and Portuguese)
Common Misspellings:
  • Fleur de sal
  • Flor de sel
Culinary Terms: Food Dictionary and Glossary of Cooking Terms
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