Sea veggie cooking class

Want to learn about the wonders of sea vegetables, and how to use them in culinary adventures? If you live in our neighborhood in downeast Maine (or want to visit), you’re in luck.

Kara in the Krunch kitchen at Maine Coast

In late March to early April, our very own Kelp Krunch baker, cooking maven, and educator Kara Ibarguen will teach a class through the local Adult Education center called “Get to Know Your Sea Veggies.”

Beginning on March 29, the class will run on three Wednesday evenings at the Sullivan Learning Center. Each will have a different focus–on appetizers, main course dishes, and desserts. Plus an introduction to sea veggie varieties.

Southwest Peking Spring rolls with Smoked Dulse and Ancho chiles, anyone? YUM!

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Happy Holidays from MCSV

From all of us at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, wishing you and yours a warm and joyful holiday season!

Thank you for loving sea veggies, choosing our products, and helping us learn and grow.

We wish you all the best in 2017.

And Eat Your Sea Vegetables!

 

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Mary’s Gone Crackers has a new flavor made with Dulse!

What do we want in a cracker? Crunch, of course. And taste–a little salty, a little savory. Many crackers, even quite a few that are marketed as natural and healthy, provide the crunch and the taste but are made of simple starches and flavorings with some token wholegrain elements in the mix. In a cracker, we also want substance–whole foods, solid nutrition.

This is where Mary’s Gone Crackers comes in. Their line of crackers (plus cookies and other goodies) is made from whole grains and seeds, simple seasonings such as garlic and herbs, filtered water, and sea salt. And they are tasty, crunchy, and satisfying.

Super Seed Seaweed & Black SesameBut they just got even better–their new line of Super Seed crackers includes “Seaweed and Black Sesame,” made with our Dulse! Dulse brings a salty taste because of its mineral richness, providing a range of mineral salts rather than just sodium.

We had a chance to try out these new crackers this fall, and sampled them with goat cheese and our Sea Seasonings at the Maine Harvest Festival in November. They have all we want in a cracker!

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A Sea Twist on the Gingerbread House

In late November, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables got word about a fundraiser put on by Downeast Family YMCA in Ellsworth–they invited local businesses and organizations to create gingerbread houses to display and raffle off at a special event, “Moore Center Under the Lights,” on December 8.

Hearing about this event, MCSV Kelp Krunch™ baker and educator Kara Ibarguen jumped in with both feet. “As soon as I heard about the fundraiser, and that [MCSV] wanted to take part, the wheels started turning,” she says, knowing that the event was for a great cause, and a “good way for us to be active in the community and support healthy programs.” The event raised funds for the Y’s 2016 Annual Campaign.

Gretchen shingles the roof with Krunch bars!

Kara also knew right away that the MCSV gingerbread house had to have an ocean theme, and the idea of a lighthouse–iconic to Maine–came easily.

She also wanted to incorporate Kelp Krunch bars (of course!) and envisioned them gracing the roof as shingles, and creating paths, doors, and other accents, adding a “visual texture.”

 

Let there be light…

It was not enough to create a lighthouse, Kara wanted it to light! She envisioned a round cookie ‘walkway’ around the light, and figured out how to set it up so the bulb would light. Her husband, a builder, helped her turn her vision into shapes and measurements for the pieces so the structures would be sturdy.

Kara decorates the lighthouse with its bold red and white stripes while Gretchen works on the landscape.

Kara in construction mode

 

With only a couple of weeks to manifest the gingerbread lighthouse, Kara set to work, with lots of help from co-workers. They set out for supplies, especially excited to find gummy lobsters, and got to work. Kara baked the gingerbread pieces at home, and the construction and decoration took place in MCSV’s R&D kitchen at the center of our new building, with staff visiting to ooh and ahh, chip in a bit of help, and take photos. There were lots of smiles and laughs all around.

As the lighthouse and “keeper’s house” came together, the landscaping began–with turquoise candy forming the breaking waves on shore, candy “rocks,” gummy wreaths, candy canes, licorice strand railings and details, and of course, gummy lobsters.

The landscape had to have trees, and Kara envisioned them made from the fronds of dried Alaria (a type of kelp), layered on ice cream cones, affixed with icing–so all the parts of the house were edible. To add more seaweed elements, strands of Rockweed trail around as vines on the outside of the house.

The gingerbread houses were raffled off after the Moore Center event, on Saturday December 10. The lighthouse also came with MCSV’s cookbook, Sea Vegetable Celebration, two shakers of Sea Seasonings® that doubled as part of the lighthouse landscape, Original and Sesame Ginger Kelp Krunch bars, a bag of Dulse, and coupons for MCSV’s online store.

We heard that the woman who won the lighthouse was very happy. :)

Happy Holidays!

~~~and Eat Your Sea Veggies!~~~

 

 

 

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Get your ferments on…with seaweed

“Microscopic organisms – our ancestors and allies – transform food and extend its usefulness.”

from WildFermentation.com

This is the first in a three-part series on seaweeds, fermented foods, and gut health.

Gut health and the importance of the “microbiome“–the billions of microbes that inhabit our digestive tracts (along with other parts of our bodies) and help us digest and draw nourishment from food, strengthen our immune system, and support health in many other ways–have been garnering lots of attention in recent months. One way to nurture our microbiome is by eating cultured, or fermented, foods–vegetables, dairy, even meats that are transformed by communities of beneficial bacteria.

Most of us are familiar with yogurt as a cultured food, but you may be surprised at what other foods are cultured or fermented–and you might find some of your favorites on the list:

beer, wine, chocolate, olives, cheeses, tempeh, mead, sauerkraut, pickles, bread, coffee, tea, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, salami, miso…

Kelp Kraut

Linnette Erhart’s Hot Kraut with ginger, jalapenos, and kelp…YUM!

What’s this got to do with seaweed? We get excited here at Maine Coast Sea Vegetables about sauerkraut at this time of year, as cabbage harvest season has arrived. MCSV founders Linnette and Shep Erhart have a big garden (fed with seaweed, of course!), grow lots of cabbage, and Linnette makes lots of kraut–pink beauties with red and white cabbage, simple white or red cabbage krauts seasoned with caraway seeds or plain. One of the most popular, not surprisingly, is Linnette’s hot kraut with ginger, hot peppers…and MCSV’s kelp. (Learn more about Linnette’s kraut and how she came to loving fermented foods in part two.)

A Stone’s Throw to Health’s yummy Mo’Greens blend.

IMG_0352

Tide Mill Creamery’s Deep Down Dulse, made with red cabbage.

You can use other sea veggies in ferments, too. We’ve also seen (and eaten) krauts made with dulse and sea lettuce, and heard of many more. And there are several Maine small businesses serving up krauts, including varieties with sea veggies–bringing the farm and the sea to the plate. On nearby Mount Desert Island, our friend Sheila of A Stone’s Throw to Health makes all her delicious blends with sea lettuce! Further downeast from us, Tide Mill Farm and Creamery started offering a line of fermented foods last year that includes “Deep Down Dulse,” made with red cabbage and, of course, dulse. Most recently, Thirty Acre Farm, and Gracie’s Garden have created ferments with sea veggies that we’ve sampled–so tasty and nutritious!

Fermented Sea Kraut in the making, from Grow It, Can It, Cook It.

Further out in the world, fermented foods company Ozuke offers their own “Beet, Dulse, and Kale” blend. Iggy’s Foods features a “Sushi Kraut” made with dulse, nori, and wakame. There’s OlyKraut’s Sea Greens gourmet sauerkraut. And take a look at A Gardener’s Table for kohlrabi kraut with sea palm (a west coast seaweed), and Fermented Sea Kraut at Grow It, Cook It, Can It. We also just learned about Cucina Verde, a food enterprise in Delaware where they feature a fermented blend of veggies called 3-D Kraut–for Dandelion, Daikon, and Dulse.

And krauts (though they may be called by other names) can be made with many vegetables, from carrots and beets to radishes and turnips. Seaweed adds mineral goodness to fermented veggies, plus vitamins, fiber, and more.

Fermenting veggies softens them but helps them keep a nice crunch, and lends a briny, tangy flavor that can border on subtle sweetness depending on the kind of veggie and what else is used in the kraut. The process is simple:  mix salt with veggies and massage to help release liquid from the plants, pack into a crock or jar, make sure liquid comes above the surface of the veggies by weighing them down, cover to keep out dust and insects, and let nature do its thing. Because they’re under the surface of the brine, the veggies are not exposed to air and ferment in an anaerobic environment. Different kinds of beneficial bacteria are encouraged to grow, in succession, as the acidity and other variables change, and harmful bacteria are kept at bay. Some people use seaweed in ferments to replace some or all of the salt (since seaweeds are so rich in a variety of mineral salts).

Art of Fermentation

The classic…

There are lots of resources for guidance and advice on making krauts and other cultured veggies. The Wild Fermentation website, and books by fermentation guru Sandor Katz are good places to start.

Treat your body, mind, spirit, and microbiome to fermented foods. And eat your sea veggies!

 

 

 

 

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We are thankful for…

…green seaweeds, brown seaweeds, red seaweeds, all seaweeds

our customers, and all we learn from them

our colleagues and teachers

our families and friends

chocolate :>

curiosity

resilience and flexibility

sunshine and photosynthesis

the phenomenal ocean that’s so abundant with life

to be able to live and work in a beautiful place, connecting people with seaweed

to work with people we love!

What are you thankful for?

May you find rest, good company, and nourishment in the holiday, from all of us at

Maine Coast Sea Vegetables.

~~~Eat your sea veggies!~~~

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Returning

We’re back! August flew by, and we’re already about to start the final week of September. Today marks the official end of summer and beginning of fall in our neck of the woods. It’s been a beautiful, sunny, and warm day, with cooler weather moving in tonight.

As the seasons shift, we’ll be back with more Seaweed in the News, stories about this year’s harvest, and other seaweed goings-on. Here’s a little preview: seaweeds, fermented veggies, and gut health; a look at how and why wild-harvested seaweeds vary in appearance, texture, taste, and nutritional content; what nature has brought us from the sea this year; and more seaweed stories that we come across.

Bladderwrack FrenchFor now, a story from BBC news dug up from a little over a year ago, about the potential for new antibiotics from seaweed. Earlier this week we caught a story about the rise of antibiotic resistance as a global health issue, on the day that the U.N. General Assembly was to address the issue. And another story about researchers looking to ancient botanical remedies from plants for new antibiotic tools. Could learning from seaweeds be part of the solution to this pressing public health problem?

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August shutdown

It’s that time again, when we close up shop for about four weeks for our annual August shutdown. We close at the end of business this Friday, July 29, and re-open on Monday August 29.

Shutdown gives most of us a break, except for some office staff who work a bit to keep things running, and the harvesters who are working hard to bring in and dry the seaweeds we all rely on. It also gives us a chance to have some things done in our facility that are difficult to do when we’re open. The tradition began at a time when Maine Coast Sea Vegetables was a tiny operation, with only a few people doing everything–harvesting, drying, sorting, packing, filling orders, and paying the bills. August is a peak harvest time, and there weren’t enough hands to do it all. Now that MCSV is a bit larger, with more hands to do the work, the tradition continues as a way to help our staff sustain themselves. And no one can argue with having a break during August in Maine!

So enjoy the rest of your summer in your own corner of the world, and keep on enjoying your sea vegetables, too.

Thank you to all of our customers, colleagues, friends, families,

and all seaweed lovers!

We’ll see you on the other side…

Mixed weeds.MCSV

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Maine Calling

Check out a recent episode of Maine Calling on MPBN, our public radio network, on “The Business of Seaweed in Maine.” The call-in show features Tollef Olson of Ocean’s Balance, George Seaver of Ocean Organics, and our own Shep Erhart, founder of Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, plus callers with wide-ranging views discussing the past, present, and future of Maine seaweed business.

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Seaweed Education Events

One of the things we love best about our work is getting involved in seaweed education efforts, from visits to local schools to supplying educators with seaweeds, to spreading the word about cool events. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Looking ahead, Micah Woodcock of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company will teach a cooking class on Maine seaweeds as part of a series from Edible Island Culinary and Ecological Center in Stonington, Maine on Monday August 29, 5-8 pm.

Happening now…

Eagle Hill Institute in nearby Steuben hosts an incredible series of workshops, classes, and seminars in the warmer months (in addition to events and programs in other seasons). For the past several years, they’ve offered Introduction to Maine Seaweeds: Identification, Ecology, and Ethnobotany, a weeklong seminar on Maine’s marine macroalgae, or seaweeds. The seminar is taught by Jessica Muhlin, associate professor of marine biology at Maine Maritime Academy,  and Nic Blouin, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rhode Island. Jessie and Nic are longtime friends of Maine seaweed and of MCSV, connect science and the arts, and are fun and creative educators. This year’s seminar runs from July 24-30, and will include a visit from Seraphina Erhart, MCSV general manager.

coast-encounter-Animation-24And ongoing…

Carol Steingart of Coast Encounters offers a variety of “Intertidal Excursions” on the coast of Maine, or bringing the coast to you. Her programs for adults, kids, and families are creative, engaging, and fun! They include Algal Edibles, focused on getting to know, cooking with, and otherwise enjoying Maine’s sea veggies.

 

 

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