Sel Gris (Gray Salt) Noirmoutier - Fine - 2 pound bag - France
Two-thirds of the surface of the Ile de Noirmoutier lie below sea-level. This extraordinary landscape, where land and sea merge indistinguishably, is the world of the salt-works. It is a landscape that has not changed for centuries, because human activity has remained the same. The works begun by Benedictine monks in the seventh century were completed with the great drainage projects (creating polders) carried out in the nineteenth century by the Jacobsen family.
For many years, salt provided the island's source of wealth, the trade reaching its peak between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries. Flemish, English and Dutch ships would call in at the port of Noirmoutier to take on fresh supplies of salt before setting sail for ports in the far north. In the mid-nineteenth century, there were 30,000 salt pans on the island; today, only 3,000 are in use.
Untreated and unwashed, the sea salt of the Ile de Noirmoutier is naturally rich in mineral salts and trace elements. This makes it an exceptionally useful part of the diet. Most evaporation takes place during the sunniest months, June, July, and August, when the salt farmers continually rake their salt beds. Each day quantities of grey salt, sel gris, in the most saline ponds settles out and is harvested with wooden scoops and wheel barrows. This coarse untreated and unwashed grey salt is ground to create this fine grey salt. It is used as a seasoning, or added to aromatic herbs or vegetables, fine salt brings out the flavor of grills, fish dishes and soups, giving you the genuine purity of natural sea salt. It is also a perfect table salt.