Zapotitlán Salinas Salt

Mexico

Puebla

Spices, wild herbs and condiments

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The community of Zapotitlán Salinas is located in the southeast of the state of Puebla, in the Tehuacán–Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, one of the regions with the highest diversity of flora in the world. Zapotitlán is recognized all over Mexico for its prized fossil salt, formed around 50 million years ago when this area, now semi-desertic, was submerged by the sea. An age-old extraction technique is used, which archeological findings have dated back to at least 2,000 years ago. Long before the arrival of the Spanish, the local inhabitants drew saltwater from natural wells and cooked it slowly at low temperatures in terracotta pots, obtaining crystallized saline deposits. The production method changed in the 16th century; cooking was replaced by solar evaporation, reducing costs and boosting yields.
The salt is now made twice a year. The first period is from March to May, a hot season before the arrival of the rains, during which production is faster and higher-yielding. The second is from October to February, after the rains, when the heat is less intense and evaporation slower.
The production process takes around a month. The producer, known as a salinero, pumps water from the wells into small ponds that are 2 meters square and 10 centimeters deep. The sun’s heat evaporates the water and, working from experience, the producer knows when to remove certain sediments by moving the water from one pond to another. After around 15 days, when the solution changes color from green to white, the first salt crystals begin to form. Known as sal de arroba and rich in sodium sulfate and potassium, this salt is used to feed the many goats farmed in the region. During the following days, the salinero will stir the remaining sediment with a wooden stick to help remove any excess moisture, then collect the “tender salt” (sal tierna) at just the right time, when it is just shiny and salty enough.

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There are currently around 60 producers at Zapotitlán Salinas, mostly aged between 50 and 60. Very few young people are continuing the family trade. Even though extraction and processing are laborious processes demanding great experience, the salt is sold at a very low price at local markets or to intermediaries who package it and sell it in the rest of the country. The Presidium was established in 2018 thanks to the work of the local Slow Food convivium and the Comida Lenta association, and has the aim of promoting this ancient product’s historic, cultural and gastronomic value. The main activity will be the formation of a producers’ cooperative to define good production practice, to improve the packaging and presentation of the salt and to sell it at a more profitable price.

Production area
Zapotitlán Salinas, Puebla state

In collaboration with
Comida Lenta A.C (Slow Food Mexico)
Presidium Coordinator
Juan Diego Hernándes Cortez
Tel. +52 237 100 3606
diheco7@gmail.com

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Alfonso Salvador Rocha Robles
Tel. +52 1 222 1706820
alfonso.rocha@slowfood.mx
There are currently around 60 producers at Zapotitlán Salinas, mostly aged between 50 and 60. Very few young people are continuing the family trade. Even though extraction and processing are laborious processes demanding great experience, the salt is sold at a very low price at local markets or to intermediaries who package it and sell it in the rest of the country. The Presidium was established in 2018 thanks to the work of the local Slow Food convivium and the Comida Lenta association, and has the aim of promoting this ancient product’s historic, cultural and gastronomic value. The main activity will be the formation of a producers’ cooperative to define good production practice, to improve the packaging and presentation of the salt and to sell it at a more profitable price.

Production area
Zapotitlán Salinas, Puebla state

In collaboration with
Comida Lenta A.C (Slow Food Mexico)
Presidium Coordinator
Juan Diego Hernándes Cortez
Tel. +52 237 100 3606
diheco7@gmail.com

Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Alfonso Salvador Rocha Robles
Tel. +52 1 222 1706820
alfonso.rocha@slowfood.mx

Territory

StateMexico
RegionPuebla