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High-quality sea salt from Southern Catalonia

The only salt evaporation pond that exists in Catalonia is located in the Delta de l?Ebre, in the south of Catalonia, a production area with more than eight centuries of history. In the past years, it has focused on producing very high-quality salt.

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30 July 2010 01:40 AM

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Emma Vila / CNA

(Gastroteca.cat) \u2018Salines de la Trinitat\u2019, the company that administers the only salt evaporation pond in Catalonia, annually produces 20,000 tons of a highly-prized variety of salt sold by top gastronomic and speciality stores. For the past years, it has been producing salt targeted to the haute-cuisine market, where it has had very good reception.


Salines de la Trinitat-Infosa, which has its headquarters in the town of Rubí near Barcelona, has an annual production of salt of around 80,000 tons. The company refers to their process of production and marketing as if they were talking about agricultural crops. For instance, they say that \u201Cthe harvest\u201D is gathered from August to September. Joan Sucarrats, the director of the salt pond, defends this terminology: \u201CThis is a farmers\u2019 job!\u201D he claims. In the case of the \u2018Flor del Delta\u2019, the salt is \u201Cmanually gathered on days with a very special climate\u201D.There has to be some insulation, but not much, and the salt is only formed \u201Cfirstly in the morning and then again in the late afternoon\u201D. Salines de la Trinitat-Infosa, which has its headquarters in the town of Rubí near Barcelona, has an annual production of salt of around 80,000 tons. The company refers to their process of production and marketing as if they were talking about agricultural crops. For instance, they say that \u201Cthe harvest\u201D is gathered from August to September. Joan Sucarrats, the director of the salt pond, defends this terminology: \u201CThis is a farmers\u2019 job!\u201D he claims. In the case of the \u2018Flor del Delta\u2019, the salt is \u201Cmanually gathered on days with a very special climate\u201D.There has to be some insulation, but not much, and the salt is only formed \u201Cfirstly in the morning and then again in the late afternoon\u201D.

This type of salt is \u2018flake salt\u2019. It does not receive any treatment \u2013unless it is necessary to manually remove pieces of grass. Its purity is absolute. Of this variety, which is very prized in haute-cuisine due to its high quality, the company produces about 20,000 tons per year, a fourth of its total production. This is the essence of the \u2018Flor del Delta\u2019.

Their ordinary salt, on the other hand, is produced with thermosolar methods of saturation which are 100% natural. After it has been gathered, the salt needs some treatment in order to eliminate all possible impurities. Afterwards, the product goes straight to the mills where it is sized (granulometry). Finally, the distribution process begins.

The high-quality variety, launched on the market two years ago by Infosa, responds to the demands of the haute-cuisine market that looks for the same qualities in salt that it seeks in other products. This fact can be easily seen if we go back in time and look at the recipes suggested by chefs: before, salt was just salt. Nothing else. Now, salt has a proper name and it usually has a variety of shapes. These shapes, like that of the \u2018Flor del Delta\u2019, can be found in very renowned restaurants such as \u2018el Celler de Can Roca\u2019, in Girona.

This fact has led to the birth of new mixtures of salt. Joan Roca, a 3-Michelin-star Catalan chef, explains that the \u2018Flor del Delta Salt\u2019 is an excellent salt that he already uses, but he sometimes spices it up a little bit to give it a kick. For instance, they once prepared a type of salt with pepper that \u201Cwas perfect for both tuna and pigeon\u201D. From that experience, \u201Cwe started to produce a variety of different salts\u201D, he said. \u201COur team worked on the project, but the person who dedicated the most time to it was Salvador Brugués\u201D. Now, these different types of salts (citrus salt, pepper salt, etc...) are commercialised by Salines de Trinitat.

Even though the salt evaporation ponds of the Delta de l\u2019Ebre are the only ones that remain active in Catalonia, the salt industry has been going on for centuries in different parts of the territory. Nowadays, they can be visited in order to learn about the process. For instance, in Cardona, at the heart of Catalonia, we can find the facilities of the Mina Nieves. Or in the county of Sallent, we can find a mountain formed from the remains of a potassic salt mine. The salt evaporation ponds of Súria, Gerri de Sal, Formentera and Eivissa are more examples where the remains of this industrial activity can be found. Those in Eivissa are now a natural park and the one in Torrevella in southern Valencia now has two lagoons that constitute the 2nd salt production space in the world.

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  • An air image from the Delta de l'Ebre salt evaporation ponds

  • An air image from the Delta de l'Ebre salt evaporation ponds