Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home
I have a little secret, although I don the appearance of a forager, at heart, I'm an artist, an optimistic awed by the natural world kind-of-one. As an artist, seaweed does it for me. I can spend hours looking in a rock pool at the beautiful colours and textures, how the water moves the weeds and the play of light on the water.
As an artist playing at being a forager (albeit teaching foraging for 12 years and writing books about it), being able to harvest and eat these works of art is an added bonus. Last week was the first good spring tide of the year, which was a wonderful opportunity to hand pick a few seaweeds for personal use. Dulse (Palmaria palmata) is one of my favourite snacks when I'm working at home, it's nutritious, salty and tasty. There's lots I could tell you about it, and indeed I do in my seaweed book, and on my seaweed courses.
How and why to dry seaweeds
Traditionally, seaweeds are dried to preserve them. I like to taste dulse fresh on the beach, though if I'm picking more than a few fronds I dry them at home. There are many ways to dry seaweeds, which I discuss on my courses and in my book, though my preferred way is; naturally. Energy is a big topic these days. This is a great way to reduce and be efficient with our energy consumption in order to respect and take care of our one and precious earth by using the natural energy of the sun.
So, I dry dulse over clothes racks and on tea towels in my sunny, warm kitchen. It only takes a day (or two if it's cooler).
This morning, as I descended into my kitchen and opened the curtains I entered another artist's heaven.
I loved how the light played on this beautiful red seaweed as it was drying on tea towels. Every stage of seaweeds I love. The carefully harvesting of them (just enough and only half of each dulse plant), rinsing and patting them dry, laying them out on tea towels and hanging them on clothes racks. Watching them shrink and dry, checking there's no damp clumps. Then storing them in clean jars for snacks or to incorporate into potato dishes, quiche, dukka, and chapatis, recipes which you can see in my seaweed book. I also have a blog for a more-ish Dulse Soda Bread (gluten-free) which comes with several recommendations, whether or not you're gluten-free.
Tips for drying seaweeds at home
- If you can, dry them naturally in a warm room or airing cupboard
- First rinse and pat dry the seaweeds, removing as much liquid as you can. You can also use a salad spinner for this
- For small seaweeds, lay them out over tea towels with enough space around them to let them breathe
- For larger seaweeds hang over clothes racks
- Check the seaweeds regularly to make sure no wet clumps are forming
- Once dried, store in clean jars, open bowls or containers