Sea Salts & Mountain Salts
Before Quinn Popcorn, yes, I was a sea salt user, but now I am completely infatuated with it… admittedly I have become a sea salt addict/snob. I think it’s for the good of this company, so I am not ashamed just yet.
We didn’t grow up with sea salt, we used kosher or table salt. Actually, I don’t think they sold sea salt at Stop & Shop then, but now, thankfully, they sell it pretty much everywhere. I can buy it from Trader Joes, gourmet shops, Whole Foods, or order them through the internet. It’s 100% accessible. (If you’re not using it, you should be.)
This ingredient is a key component to our product. If we over salt it, consumers will cringe. If we under salt it, they will be disappointed. We need to add just the right amount of salt to our flavors; it needs to bring out the undertones of our other ingredients. This is why I have been on the quest to find the perfect sea salt to use….. and I obviously don’t take this subject lightly.
Remember, table salt is NOT sea salt. Table salt is pure sodium chloride and it’s usually refined from rock salt or sea salt.
The salts that Coulter and I have been tasting come from places such as Israel, Japan, Columbia, Maine, California, Italy, France, Ireland, just a few of the many regions that produce sea salt.
The ones listed below are the ones that we really enjoyed, and 2 out of the 9 will make it into our final product.
Fleur de Sel: This is considered to be the crème de la crème in the salt world. The young crystals are formed naturally on top of the salt evaporation ponds in the Guerande region of France. They are harvested by raking the crystals, only using wooden tools! (This is the traditional Celtic Method) This process is completed once a year during the summer months. You can get this sea salt from other parts of France, but the Guerande region is where the true Fleur de Sel comes from.
Velvet de Guerande: This French sea salt is also hand-harvested using the Celtic method. These salts are also usually unrefined so they retain more trace minerals that occur naturally in the sea water. This particular salt is also lower in sodium chloride, it is finely ground giving it a velvet texture, AND It’s also organic…..(!?!)
Sel Gris: This gray sea salt is usually found in the Brittany region of France, off the Atlantic coast. It is unrefined, and naturally light grey in color which comes from the minerals absorbed from the clay lining the salt pounds. It’s also collected using the Celtic method. I love the purity of the color, and the salty flavor of the sea- this is one of my top five.
Maldon sea salt: comes from the salty marshes off the coast of Maldon England. It is considered a flake salt. The salt is evaporated by the natural process of sun and wind from the sea. This salt brine is produced and gathered in an open evaporating pan. It’s then heated to a point where the snowflake crystals appear. The crystals are paper-thin and truly gorgeous. Best part, it has a mild salty taste to it, yet it’s very distinctive so we might be able to get away with using less salt! The only problem for us is that you can’t get it in bulk…anywhere! It only comes from the Maldon Crystal Salt Company, and you can only purchase 8.5 ounce packets. So sadly, this might be an issue.
Italian salt: comes from the ponds/ low waters of the Mediterranean Sea, specifically along the coast of Sicily. It’s also naturally rich in iodine, fluorine, magnesium, and potassium. Pans are filled with seawater in the spring and then left to evaporate. Once the water has evaporated, the salt is crushed and ground. It’s a great standard sea salt.
Hawaiian red sea salt: the color comes from a natural mineral called Alae, volcanic baked red clay. It’s a natural additive added to enrich the salt with iron oxide. It’s also know for its detox properties, although not sure why. I am guessing the clay in the salt pulls out the toxins in your body. You can do your own research on this.
Myer lemon California sea salt: This particular salt comes from a region off the coast of northern CA. The zest of Myer lemons from Greece are added. I love the citrus compound of this salt. It adds flavor to the popcorn, but not enough to make it truly lemony.
Himalayan pink salt: contains the highest mineral content of any natural salt! It’s from the ancient Himalayan mountains. It sounds exotic..but is it too exotic for our product? Maybe.
Peruvian pink salt: harvested from ponds in the Andes mountains in Peru. Light pink color, very soft salty flavor. I like it.
So just to quickly note that almost all unrefined sea salt contains natural traces of minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iodine. It brings added nutritional properties, it’s pure and clean, it’s the best of the best, which is of course exactly what we want!