Salt of the Islands – Flor de Sal

flor de sal mallorca with Mallorca HikingReturning to products Made in Mallorca, today we’re going to look at the incredible success story of Flor de Sal – naturally harvested sea salt from the beaches of Mallorca.

Flor de Sal is one of the highest quality sea salts in the world, and due to its scarcity it is also one of the most expensive. It is harvested by hand along the coast of Mallorca, and has become a popular ingredient in the kitchens of many of Spain’s top chefs. It is now produced in many flavours & combinations and exported from our little island around the world. The salt obtained is 100% natural without any modification (apart from the new flavoured salts that have, e.g. herbs & spices added to them).

The salt producing area of Mallorca is Ses Salines (named after its salt flats) in the south east of the island, and about 7 kilometers from the coast. Winter storms bring seawater onto the salt flats, which are then left to dry in the sun… The whole area has been designated an area of special scenic and rural interest, and it is a fascinating place to walk, as we observe its intriguing and unusual ecology. Watch this space – Mallorca Hiking has a few fabulous new guided walking itineraries in this area that we’ll be adding soon (and in the meantime of course you can take a look at some of our other fantastic walks)

Flor de Sal (or “Flower of Salt”) is extremely beneficial as it retains its natural moisture, many minerals and other essential elements from the sea – enhancing both its flavour and its health benefits. Because its crystals are so small, flor de sal dissolves faster than regular salt when used in cooking, so it’s best used by sprinkling it over food just before serving.

La Sal de la Vida with Mallorca Hiking

In the past salt was as valuable a commodity as oil is today. Many wars and treaties were declared over the trade of salt. Some even say the fall of the British Empire started when India objected to a tax on salt that escalated into a backlash against British rule.

Historically, the Egyptian’s were the first to discover the process of evapourating sea water to extract the salt and the Phoenicians brought the technology to Portugal where mass production and export was first started. The French introduced Fleur de Sel in around 1975 in Guerande, on the French Atlantic Coast. In Mallorca farming of Flor de Sal is relatively new with the first commercial production beginning around 2001.

The ancient process for harvesting salt is  still used today.  Seawater is left to evaporate in progressively smaller, shallower, and lower pools—or salt pans—until the salt is so densely concentrated that it can just be scooped out of the water. The salt is harvested every five to seven weeks, depending on the heat of the sun and the force of the drying winds.

Once harvested the salt can be enriched with other ingredients – this process has resulted in a star product of the Balearic Islands. Numerous awards have been bestowed on the companies now producing Flor de Sal from Mallorca. Flor de Sal d’Estrenc and Llum de Sal are the main producers here and have already earned an impressive list of awards.

Flor de Sal Awards with Mallorca Hiking

If you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful product, look out for it in the quality delicatessen outlets. If it’s made in Mallorca – you can be sure it’s a quality product! It’s great for a present when you’re travelling back home – but you’ll probably get hooked for your own use once you try it…

Don’t forget it’s always important to maintain your salt levels particularly when Walking and Hiking, so why not do it in style, with Flor de Sal…!!

Made in Mallorca

made in mallorca hikingThere isn’t nearly enough information produced about the variety of products that are made and sold in, and exported from Mallorca. Mallorca has a history of producing a variety of products, which are all available here on the island for you to discover. Exploring the real Mallorca can start with sampling some of these products. They all contain an essence of the island, whether it’s liquer made from local herbs or perfume made from the flowers of the almond blossom…. Tempted? Then read on:

Many of the island’s products are known only in Spain, however some of them, such as Camper shoes, are now a global brand!

Here’s a sample of some of the ‘home-produced’ items you can buy in Mallorca.

Sobrassada and Botifarró

Pork products form a large part of the Spanish diet and these two delicacies are produced throughout the Balearics. They are well-known and well-loved across the whole of Spain. Essentially, Sobrassada is “sausage meat” made from good quality minced pork combined with spices like paprika, salt and red pepper (which gives it a lovely red colour), which you normally spread on bread. Every producer makes it slightly differently…

Botifarró is the name given to a sausage filled with coarsely ground pork, including liver, and spiced with salt, pepper, herbs and aniseed, which gives it its distinctive flavour. They are delicious, large chunky sausages and perfect for BBQ’s!

Ensaimada

You may have noticed Spanish holiday-makers walking around the airport with large hexagonal boxes. These are used to carry home the ensaimada which is a light, quite sweet pastry usually eaten for breakfast. The dough is made of flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough and reduced pork lard called saïm, and shaped into a spiral – it is quite unlike anything you will have tried elsewhere.

Sometimes ensaimadas are filled with angel’s hair (squash jam), custard cream, almond puré, chocolate, sobrassada, apricots, but normally they just have a light dusting of icing sugar – perfect for “dunking” in coffee at breakfast or a mid-morning snack.

Olive Oil

Excellent quality olive oils are produced from the olive farms on the island. Extra virgin olive oils with designation of origin are made from majorquine, arbequina and picual olives and have a wonderful, and very distinctive flavour. Olives and olive oil production will be the subject of a future article, so why not register to follow this blog…?

Wine and Liquers

There are two areas in Mallorca with D.O. – Binissalem (where a festival is held to celebrate the grape harvest every year) and Pla i Llevant. Wine produced in the island has consistenly improved over the decades and can now quite rightfully hold its own alongside the more well known Spanish names. See also our earlier article on Wines of Mallorca.

Two liquers are made on the island: Palo and Hierbas. Palo is a very dark (almost black), dense, thick liquid and made from infusing cinchona bark (quinine) and gentian roots, and caramelised sugar. It has been made in Mallorca since the 19th century. Hierbas, an aniseed drink, is made from infusing and distilling herbs gathered from the island. This is by far the most popular digestive on the island and comes in sweet, dry and medium varieties. Restaurants will often offer you a “chupito” when you’ve finished your meal and order the bill – and this is invariably Hierbas!

Don’t forget that liquids can’t be transported in your hand luggage so either buy your bottles after going through security or get them wrapped carefully in the shop and pack them in your main luggage.

camper shoes mallorcaShoes

The island’s shoe-making industry is based in Inca, Selva and Lluchmajor. These days some of the brands such as Camper and Patricia are well known across Europe. Modern, funky and traditional designs are all produced on the island and the quality of the leather used is well known.

Also made on the island are the canvas “rope” shoes or Espadrilles. Worn over the years by the locals and available in wonderful bright colours, they became popular across Europe in the ’60’s.

There is also another type of Mallorcan open sandal – ever popular with the locals – made from leather and recycled motor tyres! These also now come in funky colours, and with a number of variations on the theme…

Pearls

The imitation pearls made in Mallorca are famous the world over for their close similarity to natural pearls, which cost considerably more! The factory, established over 100 years ago and now producing over 50 million artificial pearls a year, is in the town of Manacor.Mallorca_Pearl_Bracelet

Mother of pearl and ocean substances are used to make the artificial pearl and the process is absolutely fascinating. Enjoy a visit to the factory where you can watch how the pearls are produced, and also take advantage of lower prices in the factory shop.

Don’t expect a bargain though – artificial pearls, such as those cultivated in Manacor, are almost indistinguishable from the real thing so they can be quite pricey.

Pottery and Glass

Pottery and ceramics have been synonymous with Mallorca for centuries. One of the cutest examples of the tradition for pottery is the ‘siurells’. These are little clay whistles produced as far back as the Arab times. Adored by children, they come painted in bright eye-catching colours and can still be bought on the island today. All over the island you will see many examples of Majorcan pottery for sale.

Glassblowing, which originated in Syria and was brought to the Balearics by the Romans, is a craft that still exists on the island to this present day. In places like Lafiore in Valldemossa you can still watch master craftsmen. In Palma there are many small Art Galleries where exquisite examples of this craft can be seen and bought.

Perfume

The perfume Flor d’Ametler (‘almond flower’) is made in Mallorca. The main ingredient is the almond flower, which gives it a distinctive scent. Make sure you look for the flower inside the bottle. Only the authentic perfume has that, copies won’t!

flor de sal mallorcaSalt

Salt is a relatively new product now being produced from salt “farms” mainly around Ses Salines in the southeast of Mallorca. There are 2 excellent producers – Flor de Sal and Llum de Sal – which use high quality sea salt in their products, as well as extracts and essences from Mediterranean plants such as mandarin orange, rosemary, rose and lavender, wine… As the most natural sea salt available, this is a very sought after product and is now exported worldwide.

From the earth..

Natural products like oranges from Soller and Almonds island-wide,  Olives & Olive Oil as well as growing Wine production have all been covered in previous posts, and these describe many diverse products made from these locally grown fruits.

Suffice to say there are some great shopping opportunities when visiting Mallorca – take some of these fabulous products home as presents, souvenirs or just treat yourself to a little Mallorquin luxury. So…. see you in Mallorca soon?