‘Sal de Tavira’/‘Flor de Sal de Tavira’ are hand-harvested sea salt, obtained by the natural precipitation of water from the Atlantic Ocean, which circulate through a series of pools until it finally crystallises in the salt pans. They are unrefined, unwashed and additive-free sea salts that have specific physical and chemical properties that differ from those of common salt. ‘Sal de Tavira’ and ‘Flor de Sal de Tavira’ are hallmarks of the Algarve region, known to contain natural iodine in beneficial quantities and trace elements present in seawater. They are also free of mud and other insoluble substances. These salts are highly valued because they enhance the flavour of food and give dishes a unique, refined taste.
‘Sal de Tavira’ is sea salt consisting of crystals which form at the bottom of salt pans and it is extracted by hand with a special tool called a ‘rodo’. The crystals, which are flake or cube-shaped, can, up to a certain point, be crushed between fingers and are clearly distinguishable from common sodium chloride. For its part, ‘Flor de Sal de Tavira’ has a different mineral salt content and is much more fragile when rubbed between the fingers than ‘Sal de Tavira’. It has its own characteristic proportions of chemical elements and appears different to the naked eye. ‘Flor de Sal de Tavira’ is hand-harvested by removing the top layer of salt which forms in the pans with a special tool called a ‘coador’ before the rest of the salt sinks to the bottom.
The salt pans where ‘Sal de Tavira’/‘Flor de Sal de Tavira’ are produced are located in the Ria Formosa National Park, which comprises the parishes of Santa Luzia, Santiago and Santa Maria in the municipality of Tavira. The specific characteristics of these products result, to a large extent, from the area’s climatic conditions and because of the fact that there are no environmentally damaging activities (such as heavy industry or intensive farming) in this part of the Ria Formosa. Additionally, the experience and knowledge of the local people are also extremely important to the quality of the product, as they understand how to prepare the salt pans, clean them and remove any mud therefore ensuring that a quality product, free of undesirable foreign matter, is obtained.