Fleur de sel, or fleur de sel salt, has been a traditional salt used for hundreds of years. It has an extremely high moisture content, which makes it very salty, but it also maintains a certain salty flavor from the ocean. It is a soft, almost waxy salt.
This moisture content also encourages the formation of the tiny salt crystals on your tongue, creating the salty taste that we associate with fleur de sel. While it’s still not the most popular alternative to table salt, it is certainly one of the most pleasant flavors you can currently find in a salt product. It comes in a wide range of thicknesses from a very fine grain to a fine graining. It’s also often packaged in a variety of attractive packaging designs, which make it easy to add to your table salt or saltine crackers. Because of its moisture content, however, there are different salts of fleur de sel available on the market, each with their own specific benefits and/or pitfalls (see my article on fleur de salis for more info).
Fleur de sable is the most common type of fleur de sel, and is the one most people tend to purchase. Its relatively high moisture content keeps the crystal particles from sticking together which creates a more delicate flavor, making it a great choice for pickling. However, its delicate flavor means it must be seasoned prior to use, and only because it will lose its flavor if left out on the open without a salt swap. It is very sensitive to heat, so it is not a good choice for cooking or baking purposes.
Chilk is a more traditional fleur de sel salt that comes from France. It has a higher moisture content than fleur de sel and is more salty than chilk, retaining more of the naturally occurring trace minerals of France. It maintains a more delicate flavor, but like fleur de sel, it should be seasoned prior to use. This one is best purchased in coarse grain chunks or in a finely chopped piece.
As you can imagine, the more natural the salt is, the less it will have in minerals. Fleur de sable and chilk are both excellent choices with a neutral taste that maintains trace mineral levels in your food. Their relative abundance in minerals makes fleur de sel the superior choice for table salt, but not a perfect one. Because it contains so many natural minerals, it can still have a sharp taste even with the addition of other spices or herbs.
Table salt, fleur de sel, and chilk all have similar effects on the body. Each has its own particular benefits and drawbacks, but none are harmful to you or your family. If you haven’t tried any of these salts before, give them a try for the benefits they offer as well as their price. All three of these salts are available at gourmet food stores, but you might want to check out bulk online retailers. Not only do they often carry specialty varieties you might not find in department stores, but they also ship quickly and inexpensively to save you money on food items. With a little bit of time, effort, and patience, you will soon notice all the health benefits associated with fleur de sel salts.