Because we are proud of the Algarve and we love to share the best things it has to give us, today we will talk about "Flor de Sal".
They say it's the cream of the salt. "Flor de Sal", translating eloquently to "salt flower", is made up of crystals of exceptional whiteness, which form on the surface of the seawater collected in saltpans, producing a fine crust of salt. Consumed throughout the ages by marnotos (salt workers), who refer to it as "curds", as it rises to the surface of the water in the same manner as cream in milk, flor de sal is one of the Algarve's finest natural treasures. To find out more about this white gold, we paid a visit to Necton, in the Ria Formosa Nature Park, in Olhão.
The company works in two different business areas - the Traditional Sea Salt unit, with its product range comprising the Marnoto and Belamandil brands, and the Microalgae unit, involved in aquaculture, cosmetics and research. Inácio Valle, one of Necton's managers, introduced us to the harvesting processes behind traditional sea salt and flor de sal, based on ancient methods.
The lagoon water is collected in a reservoir and then fed down to the evaporating pans, where it flows in zigzags through a system of beds, before reaching the crystallisation pans. Every day, as the fine crystal crust of flor de sal forms, it is carefully strained off, by hand. Traditional sea salt differs in many ways to industrially produced salt. Did you know, for example, that more than 80 minerals are lost during the industrial process of the latter? In contrast, traditional salt is 100% natural, retains alkl the beneficial properties of the sea and nutritional components, and is free of any chemical additives or washing processes. As a consequence, it is better equipped to accentuate the flavour in foods, activating the taste buds. Additionally, the saltpans provide a platform for the wildlife of this area of great biological and ecological value.
If you would like to spend a different day out, with the kids, learning more about this seawater in crystal form, contact Necton (www.necton.pt | +351 289703961) to organise a visit to the saltpans. With a little luck, until the end of summer, you might be able to watch the marnotos in full swing.