Seaweed biscuits, sweet and savory

We recently learned of Stag Bakeries in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and their delicious-sounding baked goodies with seaweed…oatcakes, water biscuits and shortbread…yum!

from www.stagbakeries.co.uk

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Planting Seeds for Our Future

by Shep Erhart

The winter solstice is not the usual time of year to plant seeds, nor is the ocean the usual place. But that’s exactly what we were doing this past December 21, 2013, in the cold, gray waters of Frenchman Bay, a few miles from our facility here in Franklin.

Tiny alaria ready to plant out

Biologically speaking, these aren’t exactly seeds, as in the encased male and female genetic material awaiting the miracle of water and warmth to put forth their tender dicotyledon shoot. And seaweeds aren’t actually plants, but that’s another story.

What we “planted” out in the bay were baby seaweeds–tiny kelp (Saccharina latissima) and alaria (Alaria esculenta).

Kelp sporophyte

They had been carefully “hatched” in a climate- controlled “seeding” lab, where the spores we had scraped from their parents last summer were encouraged to combine to form miniscule sporophytes  that were enticed to attach to some fine twine. That twine, loaded with tiny kelp babies, was then wrapped around a one-inch diameter PVC pipe. This is a fascinating process with many more details that I’ll leave to Sarah Redmond  for some other time. Sarah is  a Marine Extension Associate focusing on seaweed, based at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR), another partner in seaweed aquaculture efforts.

DSCN0023-001

Kelp-seeded twine wound around PVC

So here’s what happened on the winter solstice: Tollef Olsen from Ocean Approved and I took about a dozen of these twine-wrapped, foot-long pieces of pipe (submerged in cold salt water to reduce shock) out to the thirty-five-acre aquaculture site we are sharing with James West, a Sorrento lobsterman who intends to raise mussels on this site just off Preble Island, in Frenchman Bay. Growing seaweed near nitrogen-producing shellfish or finfish aquaculture sites enhances growth while removing excess nutrients from the water. This is the win/win result of Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture, or IMTA. (Want to learn more about IMTA? Check out “Seaweeds–a Part of Everyday Life” from IMTA Canada)

Once we reached the four big yellow mooring markers on the site, we attached the end of a coil of 3/8” sinking rope to one of the mooring lines, about seven feet down. To this we attached the end of a spool of twine, fuzzy and brown with baby kelps.

As I slowly reversed the boat toward the opposite mooring, the rope uncoiled off the rotating drum at the stern of the boat, as the twine spiraled off the PVC spool onto the rope. In this little video you can see it happening, as you listen to the sound of the uncoiling rope drum.

Every 150-200 feet, we stopped and changed spools, and attached a five- pound cement weight at the end of a seven-foot rope and buoy. This keeps the seeded rope stable at a seven foot depth from end to end (approximately 600 feet).

Seven feet is the depth that Tollef has found is optimal for the kelp to have access to light and nutrients at this time of year. Remember that in the wild these plants would be covered by much deeper water than that twice a day. By the end of a couple of hours, we had laid about 1800 feet of rope and spiraled on to it about a dozen spools of twine. These twine spools bore sugar kelp babies from two regionally different parents, as well as  some alaria sporophytes hailing from the Downeast area.

kelp line may 2013 showing many stipes

“Grown up” kelp, from another site–hopefully what our babies will look like in a few months!

Wow, what a day. We were very grateful to have found an almost perfect weather window, in the midst of what was already a tough winter, to get these tiny plants out into the environment they will hopefully flourish in. These species love cold water so in the winter they have their chance, particularly as the sun gets stronger and the winter  upwelling brings them the nutrients they need.

Next:  a visit to see how they are doing. Stay tuned. Stay warm.


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Seaweed to the rescue?

This just came across the transom–a brief story from BBC News on potential medicinal uses of seaweed, particularly alginates to fight bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

http://natural-history.main.jp/Tree_of_life/Eukaryote/Plantae/Rhodophyta/Delisea_japonica/Delisea_japonica_1.jpg
Delisea japonica, a related species; photo from http://natural-history.main.jp/Tree_of_life/Eukaryote/Plantae/Rhodophyta/Delisea_japonica/Delisea_japonica.html

Here’s a newer version of a story we posted a few months ago, about biomimicry and a red seaweed (Delisea pulchra) that may model a new way for humans to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria–by interfering with how bacteria communicate, and congregate.

Seaweeds have much to teach us, as well as nourishing and even healing us…

 

 

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Everything old is new again…

kombu-seaweed

Credit: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, www.bonappetit.com

Maine Coast Sea Vegetables (actually, seaveg.com) was mentioned in an article at bonappetit.com yesterday:  Seaweed Is the New Hip Health Food, Loved by Chefs. Check out the recipe link for Pickled Vegetables Salad with Nori Vinaigrette–coming from Portland, Maine’s Eventide Oyster Co.!

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Vegan Pot Pie with Dulse Flakes

Bite Me Kitchen is a family-run business making divine organic, plant-based meals out in Costa Mesa, California. Here’s a pic they shared recently of an incredibly luscious vegan pot pie they created, including our Dulse Flakes!

!cid_part1_01010009_07010701@bitemekitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One word sums it up:  Yum!

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Kelp: one of the ‘world’s healthiest foods’

Fresh KelpRodale News recently posted an article on The 11 Healthiest Foods in the World, and included kelp on the list for its abundance of potassium, iodine, and a range of minerals and other nutrients. The article also notes that harvesting kelp is by and large a sustainable enterprise, and mentions Maine Coast Sea Vegetables as a source for sea veggies–thank you!

Where Health Meets Life

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“Seaweed, a sea treat!”

Sarah Redmond, Maine Sea Grant’s marine extension for seaweed, will explore seaweed with kids at the Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland today through art projects, talking about how we can use seaweeds in our daily lives, and eating seaweed snacks…

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Bar Tartine’s shichimi togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi - Japanese 7-Spice Seasoning. Spicy with a hint of citrus, it lends a gentle heat to such dishes as chilled soba noodles.Nick Balla, chef at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, kindly shared with us their recipe for a Japanese condiment called shichimi togarashi, also known as seven spice powder. They make theirs with wild nori, or laver:

One of our favorite spice blends, shichimi togarashi is one of the most popular condiments in Japanese homes and restaurants. It’s used to season grilled meats, vegetables, noodles, and rice dishes. Traditionally a blend of seven ingredients, usually a combination of hemp seeds, citrus peel, togarashi pepper, seaweed, sesame seeds, sansho, and ginger or shiso, there are in fact many variations of the basic recipe.

Ours is a riff on the Fresh Lavertraditional blend using ingredients that are grown here in northern California. We use citrus peel, sometimes yuzu, sometimes lemon or bergamot. Instead of hemp seeds, we use beer hops, and we get wild nori and dulse seaweeds from Mendocino. Sunflower seeds, kale, green onions, and red peppers from local farmers find their way into the mix.

Keep this spice on your dining table next to the salt and pepper and use it freely. It is the perfect table condiment.

Laver Whole Leaf - 1 oz1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 bunch green onions, green tops only chopped
1 bunch black kale, stems removed
2 lemons, peeled
1 cup crumbled wild nori (laver)
1 oz dried beer hops (optional)
6 chili de arbol, stems removed
1 tsp kosher salt
 

Heat a small home dehydrator or an oven to 120° F and dry the scallion, lemon peel and kale until completely dry and brittle (1-2 days).

Preheat oven to 300° F. Spread nori/laver and hops, if using, on a baking sheet and warm in the oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Using a coffee or spice grinder, process each ingredient one at a time. Process until almost a fine powder; a bit of texture is good.

Mix well, store in an air tight container for up to 2 months.

Enjoy!

And many thanks, Nick!

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Pemaquid Oyster Fest and Olazul

Pemaquid Oyster Festival LogoLast Sunday, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables joined Sarah Redmond of Maine Sea Grant and Justin of Maine Sea Moose to have a display table of seaweed goodies at the Pemaquid Oyster Festival in Damariscotta.

Refillalble Seagreens Salt GrinderThousands of oysters were shucked and enjoyed, and visitors were treated to live music all afternoon on a gorgeous sunny day. Many people stopped at the “seaweed table” to sample Justin’s sea salt and seagreens blends, MCSV’s Kelp Krunch, Sea Chips and dulse, and VitaminSea‘s seaweed mixes. Sarah also brought her own pickled “dilly kelp stipes” and fresh sea lettuce. Many people who stopped by were new to seaweed, and we heard frequent exclamations of surprised delight after they tried a bite of Krunch or sprinkle of seagreens.

At the festival we also got a chance to meet Gretchen Grebe of Olazul, an organization in Baja Mexico. They work with coastal communities to develop sustainable businesses connected to the sea, and support marine conservation at the same time. Their projects include growing seaweed, both for humans to eat and to replace fishmeal in other types of aquaculture.

Check out Olazul’s recipe for seaweed tortillas!

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Annual August Shutdown

We are now closed until early September or our annual August shutdown, so we’ll be taking a break from these pages for a few weeks. Our website, www.seaveg.com, is still available for product information. We will reopen for orders on Tuesday September 3rd, and return here shortly after.

Thanks to all of you for your interest in sea vegetables, our business and our products, and to all of our customers, friends and colleagues for your support this past year!

As the song says, See you in September…

Have a lovely August!

~The Maine Coast team

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