Flögusalt þurrkað með jarðvarma
In Iceland, sea salt is dried far away from all possible source of pollution by using energy from hot springs and is called flögusalt þurrkað með jarðvarma. It is characterized by its flaky texture (due to large crystals), moisture and a high level of minerals. Historically, a lack of firewood made salt production by boiling seawater difficult in Iceland. This can be seen in Iceland’s food traditions; food was preserved by drying, fermentation and pickling in acid whey, but not by the use of salt. Still, some salt was produced by the burning of seaweed, thus making ‘black salt’, or by collecting salt from rocks and cliffs at the seaside during warm periods. Besides this very limited domestic production, salt had been imported from the 17th century for the production of salted cod (bacalao). In the late 18th century a saltwork was established in Reykjanes in Southern Iceland. The idea was to use geothermal energy to make salt with the open pan method, thus meeting the increasing demand from businesses salting cod. Reykjanes was chosen because how close to the shore the hot springs were in the area. At this time Iceland was a Danish colony. Pans, wood and other material were transported to Iceland, and professional salt makers recruited from Norway to help with the construction of the saltworks. Once established, it produced about 80 tons of salt a year, which went to the domestic production of bacalao. The production was small and by the end of the 18th century it came to a halt due to lack of support from the Danish government, but the Icelanders continued limited salt making for local use for some decades.?The old method of salt making has recently been revived in the Westfjords of Iceland. The area is still very geothermically active and, like in the 18th century, hot springs are used for boiling of seawater and drying of the salt. Geothermal energy is almost the sole energy source in the production, which makes the process environmentally friendly and sustainable and unique. The flaky salt is sold both domestically and abroad, mainly to the Nordic countries and the USA. The annual production is approximately 50 tons, but with the recent addition of saltpans the capacity could be almost doubled to 80 to 100 tons. In comparison the yearly imports of salt for food production in Iceland is 40,000-50,000 tons.
Image: Slow Food i Reykjavik