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Exclusive: The story of Leli tal-Melh, the iconic Xwejni salt pans in Gozo
The work of five generations of salt farmers.

Lyndsey Grima

Talks about the weather are, on most days, a trivial topic and something to pass the conversation on. However, we sometimes tend to forget that the weather plays a crucial part in a variety of industries. The salt harvesting industry is one of these trades in which a hot, sunny day can, quite literally, make a salt farmer’s day.

Alongside her husband, Josephine Xuereb owns around two kilometres of salt pans on the Xwejni Coast. Although it is now just the two of them, with Josephine’s brother helping them from time to time, these salt pans have been around for five whole generations. In fact, Leli tal-Melh is somewhat of an iconic brand in Gozo, especially since it is now also a tourist destination.

Xwejni seasalt harvesting. Leli tal - Melh. Gozo.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcZwvLRDS0g

Posted by Ted Attard Sparrow on Sunday, 12 March 2023

‘My grandfather did a lot of work to set up the salt pans that we know today. I am always in awe at what generations before us could do with only their two bare hands. He passed away when my mother was very young, so she needed to work for the family. When she met my father, she taught him all the tricks of the trade’.

Josephine’s father, Leli Cini, was very witty and he knew that, even though the salt trait seemed like it was dying due to emerging work opportunities, the need for salt will never follow suit. He started making himself known by building the brand, and even starting packing salt in plastic bags and selling them to local groceries and Leli tal-Melh was born.

Josephine explains that salt is harvested once a week, roughly between the summer months of mid-May and the beginning of September, weather permitting. Hot and sunny days are the perfect weather for the salt harvesting process while stormy and rainy days disrupt this process, and no salt is collected.

‘Melħ mill-abjad min irid!’ Is-suq tal-melħ fix-Xwejni nhar Sant’Anna 26 ta’ Lulju. Fl-antik f’dan il-jum, fl-aqwa...

Posted by Xwejni Salt Pans Leli tal-Melh on Monday, 25 July 2022

After every harvest, each individual salt pan is manually filled with water through the use of a motor pump from the big pools to the same pans. It is left to dry for about 7 days in which the salt crystals start to form. Salt is swept and gathered and placed into buckets which are then transferred to a flat drying surface to form a big heap of salt. This is covered in cloth and left to dry for about 24 hours. The salt is then ready to be packaged to add a touch of local to your meals.

‘I was born into the industry. My husband and I decided to keep the trade and it is now an attraction for tourists. It is a living heritage nowadays. The beauty of nature keeps me going. The unpredictable weather is our biggest challenge, but I love what I do’.

Good times are better when shared with family ❤️ Raymond CiniEmmanuel Cini

Posted by Xwejni Salt Pans Leli tal-Melh on Thursday, 8 September 2022

Josephine claims that now they are well known not only with locals but also tourists since everyone is opting for natural and organic food and salt is, generally, at the heart of it all!

Thank you, Josephine and family, for keeping the ancient salt-harvesting tradition alive!

14th March 2023


Lyndsey Grima
Written by
Lyndsey Grima
Lyndsey has always been passionate about all things content. She keeps her storytelling skills sharp by exercising physically as she’s a fitness buff and also mentally as she enjoys reading and travelling.

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