Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Seaweed salt is the easiest condiment to make at home, particularly if you have access to a beach as a day trip with the family. Yes, this post explains how to make your own seaweed salt, including how to harvest and process seaweed collected from the ocean. Of course, you can also use dried seaweed bought in stores but the real fun aspect of making anything seaweed is the foraging part. When will low tide be? What types of seaweed will you find? How do you harvest seaweed?
The types of seaweed that are easy to harvest grow near the surface in shallow water, receiving plenty of sunshine to grow healthily. They usually need some form of support to grow from, where they can attach their root system. This means rocks, piers, walls or even if they surface, shipwrecks, but not sand. So. Forget sandy beaches. Look for seashore with an attitude. Your best bet is a rocky coast with a slow incline into the sea.
Now, in order to forage seaweed without getting wet – just by walking around in waterproof boots or shoes – you have to check a tides table and find out when the lowest point of the low tide is going to be. I usually plan to start walking out an hour before low tide, so that we can go quite far and still be back on dry land without getting caught up in the rising tide.
A simple seaweed foraging starter set includes:
Be gentle. Though they may look indestructible, seaweed habitats are actually quite fragile and it’s best to avoid walking directly on seaweed if you can.
Seaweed is a plant and I treat it as such to harvest it. As much as pulling it is tempting, I use school scissors to cut it when it doesn’t come with a gentle tug.
It is a great family activity and kids of any age can participate.
As a general rule, most seaweeds are edible but you should check if there are any poisonous seaweed in your area. To be on the safe side, in early March I harvested…
… serrated wrack (Fucus serratus) and pepper dulse (Osmundea pinnatifida) also known as ‘truffle of the sea.’ The latter is a true delicacy and delivers an authentic umami flavor. It looks like a miniature deep purple fern and is very short. Scissors were very welcome to forage pepper dulse.
This is a close-up picture of serrated wrack.
And a close-up picture of pepper dulse. With a little practice, both are very easy to identify. As an additional and easy-to-spot seaweed, I also harvested…
… wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), a seaweed much loved in Japan and used as base seaweed to make Nori and delicious seaweed snacks. It’s very delicate and looks like a lettuce with translucent leaves. Because it’s so fine, it flows gracefully in sea water but out of the water, becomes floppy and sad but stays a vibrant green. It is delicious.
Once you’ve harvested enough seaweed for your seaweed salt recipe (1 or 2 containers of each), rinse the seaweed thoroughly at home to avoid sand, seashells and other marine debris.
First, I laid the seaweed all out on kitchen trays to dry it and as it was slow-going, I whipped out my dehydrator to quickly dry the seaweed to a crisp. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry seaweed in the oven at low temperature during an hour or until dry and crisp to the touch.
When dry, I pulsed all the seaweed to a coarse powder
A blend of this pepper dulse, wakame & serrated wrack mixed with pure high quality sea salt makes a great substitute for your current salt to add nutritional and visual benefits. Relying on the natural saltiness of seaweed, it will reduce your salt intake, adding minerals and umami taste of the seaweed.