fleur de sel

Joined Oct 27, 1999
I'm curious about the difference between fleur de sel and sea salt. Is one a fancy name for the other? Can they be used interchangeably?
Joined Aug 4, 2000
What clarified butter is to butter FDS is to standard sea salt. It is obtained by skiming the top layer of foamy seawater that has been admitted to the evaporating ponds.

King Arthur Flour sells several types of FDS.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Fleur de Sel "The Champagne of Sea Salt" is a very special gourmet sea salt.

Delicate and exquisite fine moist granules of creamy-white unrefined Fleur de Sel sea salt are traditionally harvested (mostly by women) by skimming the surface of the sea water of the salt marshes. For every 80 pounds of sel gris produced, only three pounds of Fleur de Sel is harvested.

The best one is Certified Organic from Guérande: hand-harvested, unrefined, unbleached, and chemical-free.

Best used as a finishing salt.

I found an interesting website.
Just click here for more.

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Kimmie ]
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I have some FDS de Guerand. The flavor is very, very sharp when tasted alone; it almost stings the tongue. It tastes great, however, when sprinkled on a slice of bread covered with butter. ;)
Joined Apr 24, 2001
Want to hear something extravagant? The pastry chef I work with insists only on using Fleur de Sel in his pastries and desserts. Pierre Herme does the same. I must admit that I am also a primadonna when it comes to Fleur de Sel. I always used it, even in cooking school, for everything (whether baking or cooking). I figured I had paid for school, so I was going to use only the best ingredients they had to offer. Guerand also graces my shelf.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
It graces my shelves too! I think I ought to use it more often and leave the guilt behind. Thanks for your post, monpetitchoux!



Joined Apr 4, 2000
I've been using fleur de sel very parsimoniously until last week. Enough I told my self use it and when the box is empty get a new one, it won’t ruin you. It’s with that thought in mind that I used it on a fresh herb foccacia. It was worth it and I’ll do it again!


Joined Apr 4, 2000
I've been using fleur de sel very parsimoniously until last week. Enough I told my self use it and when the box is empty get a new one, it won’t ruin you. It’s with that thought in mind that I used it on a fresh herb foccacia. It was worth it and I’ll do it again!
Joined Aug 11, 2000
I like a variety of salts, I enjoy gris as well as fds.....interesting how prevasive it has become in the past few years....wonder if it's like buffalo mozz where alot more is sold than actually produced...thoughts?
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I think she is suggesting that some FDS may not exactly be legit :) A Morton in FDS clothing!


Joined Feb 4, 2010

The main difference between these two is of taste the taste of both the food are quite differ Fleur de Sel "The Champagne of Sea Salt" is a very special gourmet sea salt.


Joined Oct 9, 2008
If you can taste that your fleur de sel is the ocean in a grain of salt, you don't want that lost in the shuffle. But if you get much the same flavor, or an equally exciting one, from another "gourmet" salt, the two can be used, if not interchangeably, then at least competitively. For example, I find that Hawaiian black and pink salts have a peculiar oceany flavor that is quite different from fleur de sel, and in my experience they are also very dry and hard, giving a very different sort of texture. For reasons I can't entirely explain, something about Hawaiian pink salt reminds me of flavors I loved in Kyoto, so when I make Japanese food that needs finishing with salt, I finish with the pink stuff, and I find fleur de sel somehow peculiar in this context -- I don't know how to explain it, but somehow fleur de sel seems slightly squishy, perhaps because the sorts of Japanese dishes that need finishing with salt are the ones that are not themselves squishy, which is rare enough that you don't want to undermine it with a moist salt. Does that make sense?

Anyway, it's in my opinion something to play with. As Shroomgirl notes, a good deal of what gets sold in the supermarket as fleur de sel isn't, quite, but on the other hand I think it's close enough that you can fool around and learn something -- and the price means you can do it with impunity.

For what it's worth, Julia Child never accepted any of this stuff about salt. She used iodized granulated salt exclusively. When asked by Alex Prud'homme about this, about gourmets who insist on kosher salt or fleur de sel or whatever, she said gaily, "f**k 'em!"

Good old Julia!
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Couple of things amuse me about the gourmet salt thing, in general, and Fleur de Sel in particular.

It wasn't that long ago that if you tried selling Fleur de Sel in the U.S. you'd be shut down for selling a contaminated and adultrated product. Now you get a premium price for it. Ain't marketing grand!

The other is the number of people who use what is an expensive finishing salt as cooking salt, and then insist they can taste the difference. Gimme a break.

Got a question. First some background. When you set up a natural evaporative pond, the first crystals to form are larger than others coming from that batch of sea water. It's the nature of the beast, recognized at least since Roman times.

Fleur de Sel are those first-layer crystals, from the ponds in the Brittany marshes. That water, among other things, is adultrated by the sands and clays of those marshes. That's what provides both the colors and special taste.

So, here's the query: Does anybody here seriously suggest that Fleur de Sel tastes any differently than the balance of the salt coming from those ponds?

Consider too: If there is widespread misrepresentation of Fleur de Sel (and I don't question that at all), and the people who buy it rave about the difference it makes to their food, what does that tell us? Is taste found on the tongue? Or in the head?
Joined Jun 6, 2007
here we go again with the big salt debate:

chemical fact: when sea water is evaporates, mineral crystals form. The first mineral to form is salt (Sodium Chloride or NaCl). As the water evaporates to a salty brine (but not completely) what is left behind is 99.9% pure NaCl crystals. Crystallization is actually a chemical purifying method (that is how white sugar is made).

Fleur de sel, Kosher salt, etc... will all taste exactly the same when dissolved in water in equal weights.

these salts when apply topically (on the surface of foods) will taste different because they melt (dissolve) at different rates on the tongue stimulating the taste buds differently.

Salt is probably the most abundant and cheapest material on earth. It seems marketers make a good job to hype the rarity or exclusivity to make a HUGE profit. Easy to make a huge profit on something that cost pennies a pound. Often the box is more expensive than what's in it.

Want to make fleur de sel at home?
Quick method: use a coffee grinder, pulverize kosher salt to a find powder. it will taste very similar.
slow method: Dissolve salt in boiling water until it dissolves no more. Place a cleaned rock so that it barely pokes out of the liquid. Evaporate the water (brine) with low heat. Better yet, place the pot in blaring sun for 1 day. Scrape only the fine crystals of pure salt off the rock (add rock powder for looks)... voilà! fleur de sel.

Fleur is an alchemist term that means the first flowering of fine crystals from evaporating mineral water. It is a purification technique particularly used for sulfur but since it's French it sound mysterious and cool!

Luc H.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Hi KYH :) I do quite enjoy fleur de sel. But when I taste (or use) topping salts I am as much using it for the varied flavors as the texture and structure of the particular salt. The different textures cause the salt to have a different release atop the food.

The two salts that that differ in texture/structure the most are fleur de sel and French Grey salt. The fleur de sel has a structure that melts with a quick *pop*, similar to a snowflake melting on your tongue. While the sel Gris is rock hard and course. Instead of providing a quick release in your mouth it lasts longer giving you a longer lasting dose of salt and the added texture too. I wouldn't put sel Gris on top of eggs but I would put it other places.

Of course sea water is dirty...that lends to some of the varying taste. I would also say that yes, fleur de sel does taste different than sel Gris taken from those same ponds. I actually went to my cupboard and tried the two side by side again...just to make sure before posting. But yes...they do have different flavors along with very different structure/texture which lends to a different delivery of salt when it's topping a dish. Even just looking at the difference you can see how the Grey salt has alot more contaminants. But then again...if you think about the harvesting methods it's not surprising.

Would I cook with any topping salt. Heck no! But that's the beauty of it. Fleur de sel may have a ridiculous price per pound. But you know what? I don't buy topping salt by the pound. You can get 3.5-4.0oz for a price that's less than two quarter pounder value meals at McDonald's. Personally I don't care to get a quarter pounder value meal at McDonald's anyway...and that little jar of topping salt will last me nearly a year. Which is using it for everyday topping. No matter if it's eggs in the morning for the kids or roasted chicken for dinner. Any time I want that quick delicate *pop*.

There certainly is alot of marketing with gourmet salts and other items. But there are certainly better places to buy these items from than gourmet shops. First off...for items other than salt...these stores don't have the turn around on any of the items to make them a valuable place to purchase anything! Why would I want to buy an overpriced "gourmet" olive oil that's been on the shelves for two years? No thank you. Turn over aside they charge a premium for everything, you're much better off buying many of these items from a reputable source online. I've seen fleur de sel sell for two and three times the price at these shops as you can get them for online.

To address the fact about cooking with some of these topping salts? well no...that would be silly.

my $0.03 :)
Top Bottom