Annual August Shutdown is now…

It’s that time again, when Maine Coast Sea Vegetables shuts down for the month of August to allow the harvests to come in, take care of things in our building that can’t be done when we’re open, and take a little break. The website, www.seaveg.com, is available for information but the webstore and offices will be closed until Tuesday September 2nd.

This tradition began in the days when it was only a few people at MCSV taking orders, packing and shipping orders, and harvesting the sea veggies, with the harvest peaking in mid- to late summer. There simply wasn’t enough time to do it all with just a few people.

These days there are nearly twenty of us working year-round at MCSV, plus many harvesters fanning out along the Gulf of Maine coast, and the harvest stretches from April to October. Soon, we hope, with the coming of farmed seaweed from our coastal waters, the harvest will continue to evolve and expand. We’ve been working hard on seaweed aquaculture projects with Sarah Redmond of Maine Sea Grant, Susan Brawley at the University of Maine and the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, Ocean Approved in southern Maine, shellfish farmers and fishermen looking to diversify into seaweed growing, and many others.

So the August shutdown’s purpose has morphed a bit over time, but it’s a tradition that’s embedded in who we are as a business and how we sustain ourselves and our practices for the long haul.

THANK YOU to all of our customers, colleagues, friends, and supporters who’ve made this another good year to live where we live and do the work we do. We wish you a lovely August, wherever you are!

As the song goes, “See You in September…”

~~~The Maine Coast Team~~~

This is us, in the chilly early spring of 2014!

Share
Posted in MCSV News!, Our History, The Harvest, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Shep Erhart talk on harvesting and growing seaweed, Friday August 1st

 

Aerial view of Taunton Bay, photo by John Sowles, Friends of Taunton Bay

Friends of Taunton Bay, a stewardship and educational organization for Taunton Bay in downeast Maine, is hosting a talk by MCSV’s Shep Erhart tomorrow, August 1st at 7 pm, at the Taunton Bay Education Center in Sullivan. MCSV is located near the shores of Taunton Bay.

Shep’s talk is titled, “Cultivating Seaweeds Sustainably on Rocks and Ropes.”

Light refreshments will be served. Click here for more information on this program and the series of Friday evening talks.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Sad to see the Sea Chips go…

Sea ChipsIt’s the end of an era here at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables. We are now offering the last batch of our popular Sea Chips®, and will no longer sell them after we return in September from our annual August shutdown.

Sea Chips are one of the few products that we don’t make entirely ourselves–we’ve been working with a certified organic corn chip producer for many years who uses our seasoning mix to make a delicious snack that was the first (to our knowledge) sea veggie chip.

About a year ago, our chip maker went through a series of changes and upgrades, including making their entire facility and processes Kosher-certified in addition to organic. This presented a problem, as our sea veggies are not certified Kosher. For the past year, we’ve investigated every avenue we could think of to keep the Chips going–from getting our products certified Kosher to searching for another chip producer. Unfortunately, Kosher certification is not workable, and we have not found another chip producer that could work with our production scale, and make a certified organic chip.

MCSV product line sell sheet OLD

“Wild Crafted Food from the Gulf of Maine” An old Maine Coast flyer showing an early version of the product line, including Sea Chips…

Sea Chips debuted in the late 1980s, after many rounds of experimentation with chip shape, size, and flavors, finally settling on the familiar “triangle” chip and a seasoning blend of dulse, kelp, onion, and garlic. With no added salt, the chips got their salty taste from the kelp and dulse. Baked before frying to seal out oil, they were crunchy without being greasy.

“Saucy” Sea Chips followed after the original version, combining the spicy and bold flavors of miso, cayenne, and ginger with the original mix. Maine Coast was again ahead of its time, introducing a spicy snack chip. In-house at MCSV, Saucy Chips with extra cayenne became a favorite snack. Long-time MCSV production team member Mickey Scott’s favorite way to eat them was crumbled on salads, or dipped in blue cheese dressing.

Seraphina Erhart, daughter of MCSV’s founders and lifelong sea veggie eater, remembers stashing “Saucy” Sea Chips under her bed in college and bartering the popular snack for other goodies! Early MCSV harvester and sea veggie marketer and promoter Carl Karush recalls that the first ideas for a seaweed snack chip involved Maine potatoes and Maine sea veggies, then evolved to a corn rather than potato chip. One of the early package designs was graced by a drawing made by MCSV’s Ingredients Manager Craig Hoke and others.

Will Sea Chips ever return? That’s hard to say. Situations and possibilities may change and we’re not giving up completely. In the mean time, we’ve been talking about some other product offerings, including a seasoning mix that could be sprinkled on corn or other kinds of chips–kind of a DIY Sea Chip.

So enjoy them while you can, and join us in saying a fond farewell (for now at least) to one of our favorite sea veggie delivery systems.

Sea ChipsWould you try a chip seasoning mix to make your own ‘sea chips’?

What flavors would you want to try?

How about a popcorn snack with sea veggie seasoning?

Thank you to all Sea Chips lovers over the years for making this such a popular product!!

 

 

Share
Posted in MCSV News!, Our History, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Midsummer in Maine

That means swimming, cookouts, visits with family and friends…and seaweed harvesting for most species is in full swing.

It also means that our organic inspection process for the year is just wrapping up. This is several weeks of intensive work, including site visits, meetings, and reviewing documentation and plans.

Looking ahead to summer’s second half, don’t forget the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival on Saturday August 30th at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland! There you’ll find seaweed as art and food, and have a chance to learn about seaweed harvesting, aquaculture, businesses, cooking, healing, and much more. Fun, inspiration, and good food for the whole family!

 

Share
Posted in About Organic Certification, Community events, MCSV News!, Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Welcome Table

photo   A couple of weeks ago we put up a short post about The Welcome Table, a free community meal in nearby Ellsworth, featuring sea vegetables in the offerings on June 18th.

Kara Ibarguen, who bakes our Kelp Krunch bars, coordinates The Welcome Table, and often brings Krunch bars to share there. This meal was the first to feature sea veggies, including New Potato Salad with dulse flakes, deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic Sea Seasoning, and hummus with a variety of sea veggies sprinkled on top. Sea Seasonings shakers were also on hand for adding to foods. See our website for the New Potato Salad recipe (slightly modified for the meal–leaving out the pickles, pickle juice, and eggs).

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

Seraphina Erhart, Maine Coast general manager, daughter of the company’s founders, and lifelong sea veggie eater, did a sea veggie demo, provided samples of dulse flakes with the New Potato Salad recipe, and chatted with guests and volunteers about sea veggies. According to Seraphina, one woman said, ‘I wasn’t too sure about this, but that was some good potato salad!’ For most guests, eating sea veggies was an entirely new experience, though some were familiar with using seaweeds for other things–from garden amendment to lobster bake packing material. One woman said her family used to harvest rockweed.

IMG_5234

Deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic were a hit!

The deviled eggs with Dulse with Garlic were a huge hit–getting even better reception than regular deviled eggs.

Seraphina says that with the small amount of promotion that Maine Coast Sea Vegetables does, focusing on local foods and local communities, and raising local awareness of sea veggies, are high priorities. So The Welcome Table was a perfect fit. Plus, wanting to support a “great community service.”

Seraphina and the sea veggie spread

Seraphina and the sea veggie spread

Kara  plans to keep using sea veggies in cooking for the weekly meal now, in soups, casseroles, spreads, etc. And Sea Seasonings will stay on hand to join the condiments on tables.

A “Community Transformation” grant from Healthy Acadia, in connection with the Hancock Community Agency helped make it possible to bring sea veggies to The Welcome Table. The grant’s focus is to help connect local people and communities with locally sourced, nutritious foods. Many volunteers also help make the meal possible, including a large pool from Maine People’s Alliance.

About forty meals were served on June 18th, and the numbers fluctuate week to week. The first meal was served on May 16, 2012, and they’ve been served every Wednesday since. The Welcome Table serves every Wednesday at the First Congregational Church in Ellsworth, from 3-6 pm.

Thank you to Kara and Seraphina for spreading the word about sea veggies, and helping local people enjoy delicious, nutritious foods!

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“Sea Belt” brew with Sugar Kelp to debut in Belfast!

According to a recent blog post at the Bangor Daily News’ site, Marshall Wharf Brewery and Three Tides in Belfast will debut their new Scottish ale brewed with Maine Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) tomorrow, July 16th!

Blogger and “craft brew enthusiast” Chad Lothian says of Sea Belt,  which he tasted on a recent visit to Marshall Wharf, “Roasty, smooth, a touch briny, it was excellent.”

This brew will also be found at the Maine Seaweed Festival on Saturday August 30th at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. That’s right, the first-ever MAINE SEAWEED FESTIVAL! A chance to explore, taste, learn, and discover all things seaweed in Maine.

 

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Seaweed on the radio

Home - WERU FM 89.9 Community Radio, Blue Hill, MaineOn Friday June 13th, seaweed took to the air waves on downeast Maine’s WERU. The show, “A Consumer’s Guide to Maine Sea Vegetables,” was an installment of the popular public affairs program Talk of the Towns.

Hosted by Natalie Springuel of Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, the show featured guests Sarah Redmond, Marine Extension Associate for seaweed, Hillary Krapf, creator and organizer of the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival, and Maine Coast Sea Vegetables’ own Liz Solet.

The conversation focused on how to know and enjoy Maine’s sea vegetables, from recipes and preparation tips to whether or not to wash off that white powder you often see on dried sea vegetables, to using seaweeds as superfoods, in healing, and to feed plants and animals. Seaweed wild harvesting and aquaculture/farming were discussed, as well as the history and  sustainability focus of Maine’s seaweed industry.

Many thanks to WERU for putting on the show, Natalie Springuel for being a great host, and to listeners who tuned in and called in with recipes and good questions. You can listen to a podcast of the show here. Enjoy!

 

Share
Posted in MCSV News!, Seaweed in the News, Uncategorized | Comments Off

“American Catch”

Author Paul Greenberg‘s new book, “American Catch:  The Fight for our Local Seafood” explores the tangled web of where the seafood that Americans eat comes from, and where the seafood we harvest goes.

“What does this have to do with seaweed?” you might ask. Simply put, seaweed is seafood–food from the sea.

This eloquent quote from an opinion piece by Greenberg in The New York Times applies to all seafood, including seaweed:

“We can have no more intimate relationship with our environment than to eat from it. During the last century that intimacy has been lost, and with it our pathway to one of the most healthful American foods. It is our obligation to reclaim this intimacy. This requires us not just to eat local seafood; it requires the establishment of a working relationship with our marine environment. It means, in short, making seafood not only central to personal health, but critical to the larger health of the nation.”

Share
Posted in Reading Room, Uncategorized | Comments Off

More on seaweed beer in Belfast

Check out this story from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a more in-depth look at the new seaweed beer brewing in Belfast…

Cheers!

Share
Posted in Seaweed in the News, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Seaweed beer in Belfast

Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. in Belfast is working on a new beer, Sea Belt Scotch Ale, made with locally harvested sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) grown by Maine Fresh Sea Farms in Damariscotta.

According to a recent Bangor Daily News article, our friends Sarah Redmond of Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, Hillary Krapf, creator of the first-ever Maine Seaweed Festival, and Maine Fresh Sea Farms’ Peter Arnold were recently on hand to add some kelp to the brew, which is expected to be “dark, strong, and complex,” and a little salty.

Although beer brewed with seaweed is not completely new (see Seaweed and…Scottish Ale?), according to David Carlson, owner of Marshall Wharf and Three Tides in Belfast, Sea Belt Scotch Ale will be the first in Maine. Look for its debut in mid-July and at Seaweed Fest in South Portland on August 30th!

kelp line may 2013 showing many stipes

 

Share
Posted in Seaweed in the News, Uncategorized | Comments Off