French Grey Salt (Coarse)
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Our coarse grey sea salt is a unique artisanal salt. The clay from the silt as well as from the salt pans impart grey salt with its characteristic gray color. Grey salt is a coarse salt that is harvested with a moisture content of 10%, whereas most sea salts and commercially manufactured salt maintain moisture contents of less than 1%. It is unique because of the mineral contributions of the clay it is harvested on. With 34 trace elements it is said to be a much more balanced and rich salt compared to classic sea salt.
Twice a day, during the high tides, water from the open sea flows into the marshes. The salt worker opens a valve to give it access to the primary pond "vasière". Then, the sun, the wind, and the salt worker’s expertise evaporate the water until the salt finally crystallises in the crystallisation ponds "oeillets". Here follows the astonishing metamorphosis of a simple drop of water into a tiny grain of salt.
What is Grey Salt?
- Grey salt is the official name for this salt but two companies have registered Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). One is our supplier "Le Guérandais" founded in 1972 who has the registration for "Guérande salt". The other is "Celtic Ocean International", founded in 1976 who has the registration for "Celtic salt". Both products are French grey salt.
- Guérande salt has always been hand-harvested using traditional methods and is well known for its culinary virtues. It is naturally grey as it crystallises on contact with the clay. Less salty than Mediterranean salt, Guérande salt is softer on the palate and richer in flavour which makes it the salt that cooks prefer for salting stocks and the water used for cooking vegetables, and also for barbecues and meat and fish cooked in a salt crust. Unwashed, unrefined and additive-free, it adds flavour to traditional family cooking.
- Guérande salt is harvested every day in summer when mild weather combines wind and sun on the Guérande peninsula. In the late afternoon, under the effect of evaporation, the salt is concentrated to a level of to 250 g/l, when it then crystallises and is deposited on the clay in the "œillets". The salt worker uses a wide wooden rake known as a "las" to push the salt to the edges of the pond. He then pulls it on to the "ladure", a round platform made of clay, where it is left for the night to drain. Next day, the salt worker uses a wooden wheelbarrow to carry the 60 kg of salt per "œillet" to the large stockpile of salt known as the "mulon".
What makes "Le Guérandais" Salt Special ?
- The first salt marsh farming on the peninsula can be traced back to the iron age. However, it was a little later that the monks of landévennec abbey, when studying the tides, wind and sun, revealed the salt marshes' true face and features. Salt farming helped uphold guérande's prosperity and reputation for many centuries.
- If a handful of workers had not stood their ground, the Guérande salt marshes would surely have disappeared, in favor of tourism enhancement projects. Deeply attached to their land and trade, several salt marsh workers decided to join together and show solidarity. They created a group holding in 1972 and founded a cooperative in 1988, with a dual objective: sustainable salt farming and the promotion of local salt.
- Based on key values such as mutual help, equality, fairness and solidarity, the cooperative boasts an incredible group spirit, given that it is exclusively owned by member salt marsh workers. The members of the cooperative elect their Board of Directors during a General Assembly. The Board, divided into specific commissions, works in collaboration with the Chairman and employees to ensure the cooperative's development.
- The Salines de Guérande cooperative currently counts 75 employees.
- Member of the "Nature & Progrès" label since 1989, they are very attached to it. Indeed, it corresponds to the original values of their cooperative:
- A participative societal dynamics.
- An economy of human-sized division.
- The practice of a peasant agriculture respecting the natural balances.
- An environment-friendly human activity.
- "Nature & Progrès", is the main organization of organic farming in France and in Europe with as peculiarity the respect for the Nature without the refusal of the Progress what puts it at the forefront of the agrobiologique development. It groups producers, transformers and consumers who guarantee the respect for its charter and specifications.
- Since 20 March 2012, quality procedures have been reinforced on a European level through the obtaining of a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for "Guérande salt" and "Guérande fleur de sel".
- The designation "GUERANDE" has finally become protected within the European Union, and this PGI provides customers with a guarantee regarding the origin and quality of Guérande salt and "fleur de sel".
- By complying with strict specifications, the salt marsh workers within the "Salines de Guérande" cooperative produce manually-collected sea salt, that is not washed after harvest and to which no additives are added.
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