Chuzo de Sal: Spanish Salt Stalagmites from Añana

  • Country of Origin: Spain
  • Region: Basque
  • Flavor profile: Bright minerality with savory undertones and a creamy finish.
  • Quantity: Approx. 110 g

if you are looking for the perfect finishing touch to brandish in front of customers with flourish and gusto without a weekly order of fresh truffles (which we are also happy to facilitate) we’ve got just the thing:  Salt.  But not just any salt, salt stalagmites from an ancient salt mining village in Basque Country.

Okay, we know they verge on ridiculous.  But perhaps also just cool enough to pique your interest? Yes?

If you know a thing or two about salt, you know that it either comes from the sea or a mine.  And since the later is rarely equated with traditional salt production, you know that the majority of high-end finishing salts are harvested from the sea.  So what’s the deal with this landlocked valley in Northern Spain producing legendary Flor de Sal?

Añana sits about 50 km south of Bilbao, in the mountainous landscape of Basque country.  The oldest human records of human settlements date back 5,000 years.  200 million years ago, an ocean covering the valley dried up, leaving salt deposits several kilometers thick.  Thanks to a natural springs that run through the salt deposits, brine bubbles up to the surface of the earth, allowing for the salt to be harvested through evaporation, rather than mining.  Several springs supply around 260 liters of fully saturated brine daily to the village, which trickles through elevated troughs to supply a patchwork maze of salt flats.  As competition for sunlight is fierce, the flats have been built up on stilts to get at the choicest real estate.

But elevated salt flats have a one small problem – they leak.  Even the smallest pinhole can allow brine to slowly drip, over time creating a stalagmite of salt.  These used to be considered a nuisance – evidence your salt flat had sprung a leak.  But seeing as its basically the same great stuff they use to make Flor de Sal, the salt makers began snapping off the salt-cicles to sell to inquiring chefs around Spain.

We just had some shipped from Spain to the frozen tundra of Minnesota for you to grate over dishes to add that “je ne sais quoi.”  We also sell the Flor de Sal in nice crunchy flakes.

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