I attended a workshop, where we got to harvest seaweed from one of the many beaches in Denmark. And it was just about time, because soon it will be too late – the water will be too warm. Spring, autumn and winter are the best seasons for harvest.
We are so lucky in Denmark that most of the seaweed is edible. And if it is not, then it is not because it is poisonous, but because it’s consistency is bad or you cannot digest it properly. However, I still have a few “go to” seaweeds I usually forage by the coast, and they cannot really be mistaken for something else (please tell me otherwise if it is different in your country – seaweed can also become invasive, so I will keep an eye out).
Bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is a brown seaweed found on rocky shores. Its fruit sits on the top and can look like bladders too, but they distinguish themselves from each other by bladders sitting on the middle of the leaves. Either way, it is extremely delicious – especially the fruit on the tips. Once you reach the stems of bladder wrack, they can be harder to chew, so usually only use the fresh tops.
Toothed wrack (Fucus serratus) is extremely common in the north Atlantic Ocean (I have no idea about the Pacific, but I guess it is the same). It too can be foraged from the beach, and you can see the difference from its cousin, bladder wrack, by it having flat toothed leaves. The tips are the most delicious here as well.
Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) is green and gooey, but also very delicious to eat. It is extremely rich on iron, which makes it a good supplement in vegan dishes. Just make sure to clean them thorough before using. They often have lots of small shellfish hidden in between their layers and twirls. I usually find it floating around in the water by the coast, because you have to go further out into the water (too far for regular rubber boots) if you want to pick it directly from the bottom.
Sea belt (Saccharina latissimi) is a sweet alga that you can forage on deeper waters. Yet it is often found by the shore after a storm, where it has gotten loose from the bottom. This alga has a smooth edge, it is flat and can become extremely large. It tastes sweet when raw.
How to use seaweed?
Seaweed can be used raw, cooked, pickled or dried. Just make sure to let it stay in seawater before use, otherwise the weed will not taste of anything if you store it in fresh water. The uses for the plants are vast, and they can be anything from chips to tea and soup. Only your imagination gives you barriers for its many uses.
However, remember to clean it (especially the sea lettuce) from shellfish and sand. Most of it can easily be spotted with your bare eyes, but check it anyway, because it is irritating to chew on sandy and lightly rocky things when you eat seaweed.
Rules for foraging seaweed that I go by:
- I only forage in the months that have an R in them: JanuaRy, FebRuaRy, MaRch, ApRil, SeptembeR, OctobeR, NovembeR, DecembeR.
- If the sea temperature reaches above 8 degrees Celsius, I won’t take the seaweed.
- I never take it from dry land.
- I always make sure it is fresh and wet.
- No closer than 400 metres from a harbour or a river, creek etc. outlet.
- Forage for your own use and do not take more than you can eat.
That is about it… Good luck everyone ❤