In William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet we are introduced to the concept that the names of things don’t matter, only what things are. Juliet soliloquizes (speaks her thoughts out loud) while on the balcony, in part stating that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That if Romeo would just “doff” his name they could find true love together.
Well we know how that worked out for them… a total of six dead and the war still raged on! Hopefully no one dies this week as a result of the names used to identify various sea salts. However, if you aren’t careful, you may find that you have chosen one that is (or at least could be) your mortal enemy!
If you were with us for our post on February 12th “Thinking about- What’s in a name?” then you are up to speed. If not, take a moment, catch up and then pick up reading here…
Sel Gris de Guerande comes from the Guerande area of the Britanny Coast in France. But, more importantly, it is certified by Nature et Progres, with the highest certification for organic food that is available from this noble organization. What that means for you and me is that a third party has verified the true nature (and chemical composition) of this particular salt and deemed it worthy of being certified as “Organic”. Factors that must meet standards include method of harvest, which must be done manually; use of non-polluting materials for harvesting, transport and storage; environmental management of the salt marshes and the monitoring of captured pollutants just to name a few.
Another specific requirement is that insolubles cannot exceed 0.75% for Sel Gris or 0.10% for Fleur de Sel. Hydrocarbons and pesticides are also closely monitored and stringently limited to quantities not to exceed 10 micrograms per kilogram and 0.5 micrograms per kilogram respectively.
That’s a fairly impressive certification when you take into consideration the fact that most countries don’t even certify salt as “natural” let alone “organic”. But the French, as with all gastronomic indulgences, appreciate the finer things and their salt is one of the finest (along with their truffles, but we’ll discuss that more in other posts)! They wouldn’t be caught dead using kosher or table salt on any food that crosses their lips!!
Now that we know what’s NOT IN a name, just what’s IN a name?
Sel Gris de Guerande is typically only 83% – 89% sodium chloride making it the lowest sodium sea salt that is widely commercially available. The other 11% – 17% is comprised of minerals and elements and retained moisture. These components are the basis for giving your body what it needs to adequately process the sodium chloride. The minerals and elements are primarily Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Copper and Manganese.
Choosing a better salt is about a great deal more than identifying it by it’s name. That would be like going out “car” shopping when you were in the market for a Franay Bently Mark VI. “Car” shopping reduces it to something on the order of a menial task when a tremendous opportunity for the appreciation of beauty exists. When in the market for Sel Gris de Guerande, don’t settle for “grey salt”…remember, you’re looking for something extraordinary!
So as you select your next purchase of “grey salt” verify it’s content and point of origin. It won’t come in something as unique as 100% frog skin leather packaging, but it’s still easily identifiable. Look for salt that specifically comes from the Brittany Coast of France. It will be labeled as Sel Gris or Fleur de Sel – de Guerande, de I’lle de Re, or de I’lle de Noirmoutier. If it doesn’t come from one of those three notable, most respected locations, you can bet your last budgeted grocery dollar that it also doesn’t come with the coveted “Organic” certification issued by Nature de Progres!
A salt by any other name might still be salt, but it won’t be Sel Gris!