Q. Can I use fleur de sel for cooking?
A. One of the finer points of fleur de sel is its texture, which can be most appreciated when it hasn’t been subjected to high temperatures. In general, fleur de sel is reserved for "finishing" cooked food, or for flavoring raw food (crudités in French) like tomatoes. You can experiment for example, by sprinkling fleur de sel on fresh fish during broiling. It’s all a question of individual taste. Try using 2-3 pinches of fleur de sel in baking for a new twist!
Q. Is moisture okay?
A. We're so used to salt being pure white powder that pours out of a little spout on a round cardboard box. Brittany Sea Salt is very different from "table salt". The moisture is a sign that it's been harvested recently and still retains its moisture and minerals (see next question). A good way to store sea salt is in a glass jar. Make sure the lid has some kind of liner besides metal, like plastic. You can use antique Ball jars that have zinc lids lined with porcelain. You don't even have to use a lid for a small amount like 1/2 lb. Just don't leave your salt uncovered too long due to the possibility of it catching dust. From time to time take out a small amount and put it in a mortar and pestle or a ceramic blade grinder to grind it into the desired crystal size (fine grind works well for baking and sprinkling). If you really want a dry salt, what's left in the mortar and pestle will become dry and easier to use. Don't worry about any salt that seems "soupy". If you leave it uncovered, a few days later you'll have crystals again.
Q. Can I use a metal salt grinder with coarse gray sea salt?
A. An important quality of Brittany Sea Salt coarse gray salt is the high moisture content, which attests to its freshness. However, this moisture does makes it harder to grind in a conventional grinder, which is made for dry, white salt. The drier the salt, the older it is. White salt is obtained by evaporation of sea water in a short period of time. The gray color of Brittany Sea Salt comes from the mineral rich clay soil of the salt marshes. Pure sea water from the Atlantic Ocean spends almost one year getting progressively saltier through evaporation as it passes through the locks of the salt marshes. Finally, in the Breton summer, it has become sea salt and is ready to be traditionally hand gathered as it has been for hundreds of years. The best way to obtain finer salt for cooking and seasoning is to grind it yourself with a mortar and pestle shortly before using it. This insures that it doesn’t dry out. Grinding isn’t necessary when the sea salt is being added to liquids like soups, stews and sauces. Hint: If using a grinder, try one with a ceramic blade.
Q. The coarse gray sea salt is 95% sodium chloride. What is the NaCl proportion in the finer salt (fleur de sel)?
A. Fleur de sel also has 95% NaCl (sodium chloride) as it is the skimmed foam from the salt ponds. Fine gray sea salt is made from coarse salt ground on special stones, so it too, contains 95% NaCl. The other 5% is made up of trace minerals.