French sea salt (fluer de sel)

Unrefined French sea salt is a staple in our kitchen.  While you can find many fine sea salts these days, we always find ourselves coming back to fluer de sel from Gurande, in the Brittany region of France.  Sure there is Jurassic salt, mined in Utah, which was left behind in a layer formed under a shallow sea which evaporated a million years ago and has an amazing flavor and almost fizzy quality.  Salt has the function of extracting moisture as well as adding flavor.  Salt helps form a nice crust on the outside of meat, sealing the juices inside.  Things like beans should only be seasoned at the end of cooking, to avoid them becoming tough, for this reason as well.  We have a couple of different jars of sea salt in the kitchen, which are easily opened to take a pinch as needed, and we keep some in a salt grinder as well.  Fresh peppercorns are kept in our pepper grinder, which matches the salt grinder, except is larger.

Fleur de sel is the delicate hand-harvested sea salt collected from the top layer of salt pans or ponds of briny seawater.  The pans dry due to natural evaporation, leaving behind the salt and the best ones come from the coastal waters of Guerande or Carmague, which have a flak, brittle texture and subtle flavor.

Fine sea salt is the salt we use more than any other for everyday seasoning.  Use it for a quick brine, rubbing a rack of ribs, preserving lemons, pickling Hungarian cucumbers, it is a finely granined salt that disperses faster and more easily than coarser grained salt.

Coarse sea salt is the chunky salt that we use to add a crunchy texture and intense flavor needed for seasoning dishes.