Salt is an essential ingredient in every kitchen. It comes in a vast variety of forms, colors and flavors and is harvested in different locations around the world. The Spanish island of Mallorca is known for its fully natural, high-quality sea salt named Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc. It´s extracted by hand along the south-eastern coast of the island. We met up with Laura Calvo, marketing manager of Gusto Mundial Balearides SL and Salinas de Levante SA, in January 2017 to talk about the peculiarities of the Majorcan Flor de Sal.
Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc is extracted close to the beach Es Trenc in the Southeast of Mallorca. What makes this area so special?
Laura: The 3.5 km-long natural beach Es Trenc is one of the most beautiful natural spots in the Balearic Islands. The protected area is home to over 170 bird species, such as flamingos and avocets, and the water is crystal clear. Here, we find the perfect weather conditions. A lot of sunshine, low air moisture and a gentle breeze. The wind and the sun help to form a fine layer of flower-shaped crystals on the surface of the pools which contain around 20 cm-high sea water. Nothing disrupts this unique interplay of sun, wind and water.
"Everything is made by hand.
Nothing is extracted, nothing is added."
Tell us more about the production of Flor de Sal. How does it differ from common sea salt extraction?
Laura: The formation of the salt crystals is a very natural process. The seawater runs towards the salt flats through the waterways until it reaches wide shallow pools. In summertime, when the weather conditions are good, we collect the crystals from the surface of the salt pools with small rakes and dry them in the Majorcan sun. We don´t touch the bottom of the pools, we only take the floating crystals, which is the real Flor de Sal. Everything is made by hand. Nothing is extracted, nothing is added. Common sea salt is, however, extracted by machinery - by trucks in high amounts - because there is a lot of salt formed through the evaporation of seawater.
Why is salt and in particular, Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc, good for our health?
Laura: Salt provides us with the minerals that we really need in our organism. Flor de Sal is the “queen” of salts. It contains between 16 and 20 times more magnesium than other salts. It also contains more minerals, such as calcium and potassium and even higher amounts of various trace elements. The magnesium acts as a natural flavor enhancer. You only need a small amount of Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc to actually flavor your food. This sparing use helps to reduce the intake of sodium chloride, as recommended by nutritionists.
What makes Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc unique in taste?
Laura: In fact, there are only subtle differences in the taste of salt. Flor de Sal has a very special sweet taste. It´s not as salty as other salts and it´s valued for its balanced aroma and the smooth texture of its crystals.
Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc naturally varies in color. What are the reasons for that?
Laura: The color and the texture of the crystals are never the same and change according to the weather and the composition of the water in the pools. Different minerals, such as clay, but also the presence of micro algae can change the color of Flor de Sal from grey and pale blue up to soft red and pink. All these colors appear in summertime, but never change the taste of the salt itself.
You worked together with Marc Fosh, the first Michelin-starred Britain in Spain. Tell us more about this exciting collaboration.
Laura: Marc was one of the few chefs on the island who worked at a very high level. He got one Michelin star in 2004 when he worked for Hotel Reads, as well as one in 2015 for his own restaurant, Marc Fosh (previously named as Simply Fosh), in Palma. He is a very special and creative chef with an extraordinary sensibility towards natural ingredients. Together, we have created five exclusive blends of herbs and spices to enrich any dish with one simple final touch. Back then, we were the first company blending natural Flor de Sal with other ingredients such as black olives, Mediterranean herbs, dried hibiscus flowers, curry, and rose petals: it was something very special. Now, we also collaborate with other chefs from Mallorca, Spain and outside of Spain. Their knowledge is very important for us.
Where do you get the ingredients for your different blends from?
Laura: Some of the blends are very exotic, such as Flor de Sal Sri Lanka, with its curry blend of ten spices. Most of these spices are not produced locally. But if we have the opportunity to buy ingredients for our aromatic salts from local farmers, we do so. If some of the products are organic, then even better. With Flor de Sal Limited Edition, we started to follow the eco-gastronomy philosophy. The special blends are made with seasonal, local and organic products such as lemon peel from organic farms in Mallorca. The percentage of these fresh products is about 35%, which gives the salt blends a very intense aroma.
"The consumers like to know where their salt comes from
and how it´s produced."
Next to Flor de Sal, you produce common sea salt as well as virgin sea salt. Any tip on how to use these salts in the right way to experience their full flavor?
Laura: Use Flor de Sal at the end of cooking or as the finishing touch to your dish and you will experience its full flavor and high quality. Common sea salt is basically for cooking whereas virgin sea salt can be used for both. No matter which kind of sea salt you use, there will always be remarkable differences than from using mine salt.
Environmental pollution has had a significant impact on the oceans and raises the amount of plastic drastically. How do you deal with this problem?
Laura: Plastic in the oceans is a worldwide problem - and it´s becoming bigger and bigger. Luckily this area is very naturally protected. Es Trenc is located to the south of the island, which is less windy than the northern parts. But there is still a lot to do. The government of the Balearic Islands runs a very nice program, where, for example, special boats collect plastic from the ocean. Our aim is to preserve and to possibly recover what we had years ago.
Have you seen a rise in demand for high-quality salt since you’ve entered the market?
Laura: Definitely, yes. The consumers are trending towards more health-conscious eating and they like to know where their salt comes from and how it´s produced. Transparency, authenticity and the best quality possible have made us grow continuously over the past few years.
For any updates visit Flor de Sal d´Es Trenc on Facebook .
And for more FOOD stories from Spain, see our other stories from the country .
Photos: THE FRANK STORY