Tag: edible seaweed

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

I’m at artist at heart. 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 […]

Tasty Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread (Gluten-free)

Tasty Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread (Gluten-free)

No, I’m not gluten-free, though this recipe for Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread is delicious and was more popular than the normal bread I baked for an event, so I thought I’d share it here. The basis of this recipe came from my sister (the gluten-free […]

Take it To the Edge – Seaweeding for Adventurers

Take it To the Edge – Seaweeding for Adventurers

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”

William Feather

 

Life’s an adventure isn’t it?!

And adventures can come in all shapes and sizes, from trying a new food to exploring a new place, to starting a family, a new relationship or a new career… Some like their adventures small, some big. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, I think.

For me, I’ve always loved to go to the edge, the edge of the cliff, the edge of the dance move, the edge of the water, the edge of what is comfortable and safe. As a very physical child some of those explorations ended in pain (the edge of the wall was not a happy ending), though most actually gave me a sense of exhilaration, or excitement and a dream of something more.

As I’ve grown older my aspirations have shifted from wanting to be a stunt woman (true), to learning how to take healthy risks, how to look after myself (and others) and how to weigh up whether I have the skills, strength and courage to go for something. Sometimes I do not, and admitting this also feels brave sometimes.

Learning about seaweeds has been an adventure for me, opening me to a whole new world to explore and one that gives me a smile of satisfaction at the end of the day. I also found the further I explored, and the more edges I went to, the jewels that I found were richer, more colourful and rewarding.

“…adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins calling from out of town. You have to go looking for them.”

Source unknown

I’ve played it safe till now, leading courses where seaweeds are accessible and easy to get to. You see, I want everyone to be able to learn about seaweeds. However, I also want to share some of these adventures and to really take you to the edges where you can experience a whole other level of seaweeding, and one I rarely get to share with others.

Seaweeds like Alaria Esculenta (Dabberlocks) and Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima), which like to be in deeper water and have more space. These feel like a special find, and the wonder of reaching these places akin to discovering a hidden beach and having it all to yourself.

If you have the desire to adventure further, to join me across the rocks, to the edge, this is what you may find, and so much more that neither you nor I can put words to, yet, or perhaps ever. Maybe it will come from an inner smile, and a sense of exhileration and satisfaction at the end of your day.

 

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”

W. M. Lewis

 

Rachel Lambert leads seaweed foraging courses, please read the details for every course (or ask) to find out how challenging the venue is, I am also available for private forays, where I tailor an adventurous seaweeding experience just for you (tide and weather allowing) – for those who feel steady on their feet and want to climb, slide and step further out to explore the world of seaweeds. Courses are always timed with the tide and are only run when the conditions are safe, no unnecessary or ridiculous risks are taken, and safety and learning about the seaweeds and the sea is always paramount.

Wild Garlic and Seaweed Oil (inspired by Nathan Outlaw)

Wild Garlic and Seaweed Oil (inspired by Nathan Outlaw)

Here in Cornwall, three-cornered leek (allium triquetrium) is often called wild garlic. I don’t have a problem with that. I enjoy local names, to me, I associate it with locals taking ownership of the plants, land and so-called weeds surrounding them and I see that […]

Gorse Flower and Sargassum Seaweed Foccacia

Gorse Flower and Sargassum Seaweed Foccacia

Part of the fun of foraging for me is coming home with a wonderful choice of unusual ingredients to cook and create with, or drying them to use another day. In my kitchen pretty much anything goes, of course there have been disasters along the […]

Can Seaweeds Survive the Frost and Snow?

Can Seaweeds Survive the Frost and Snow?

Yesterday I was crunching on frosty kelp, today defrosted and in the sun, it’s a lot for seaweeds to cope with, or is it?

 

In reverence to seaweed, and in celebration of the ‘proper’ snow we had 2 weeks ago (the first time in 10 years here in west cornwall!), I thought I’d write about seaweeds, snow, frost and freezing temperatures.

Do they like it? Can they survive? And, if they can, what are their secrets?

Frost catches a moment in time, and literally, freezes it, the effect is beautiful, though what is the impact for the weeds?

Firstly, seaweeds exist across the world, in vastly varying temperatures and conditions, from 50 metre long kelps, to microscopic organisms to seaweeds that never emerge above the water’s surface, to ones that are exposed to the sun, air and being dried out for up to 6 hours every day.

Each species of seaweed is suited to particular environments. Deep sea seaweeds (these are subtidal and never come above the sea’s surface) are used to more constant temperatures, while intertidal ones (which get exposed twice a day at low tide) are built to sustain almost extreme changes in temperature.

‘Most seaweeds would be killed if frozen. However high concentrations of tissues salts and organic solutes in the seaweed’s cells lower the freezing points.’

Basically, seaweeds have in-built anti-freeze which protects them from freezing.

In reality, this means that Bladder wrack (top image) can cope with -40° C for months, Egg wrack (above) can go to -20° C and some of the laver species (below) can remain unscathed at temperatures as low as -70°C for 24 hours or some, as well as cope with rather high temperatures in the hot sun.

I feel cold just thinking about it.

My awe of these millions of years old organisms increase with this knowledge. Furthermore, seaweeds also work together to protect each other – they live layered on top of each other, which means just the top layer freezes and the lower seaweeds are kept at a more tolerable temperature.

Similarly, emperor penguins, which survive some of the most harshest conditions on earth huddle together to keep warm. They congregate in groups, sometimes in thousands, and those on the outside of the huddle protect those on the inside, and between them they circulate so no penguin is continuously on the outside. Of course, like seaweeds, penguins body is suited to the environment, yet working together is essential for them to survive extreme temperatures.

Here’s to the beauty of the snow, the amazing science of nature, and a thankful heart for having warm wellies to go and forage those seaweeds in.

Images courtesy of; loriedarlin.tumblr.com, daily mail, Pam Collins and 500px.com

Three Seaweed Soup with an Inner Kick

Three Seaweed Soup with an Inner Kick

I’ve been reading in this Saturday’s Guardian how Thomasina Miers has been supping lots of soup so far this year, and I feel like saying ‘me too‘, though not for the same reasons many women have validly and valiantly been saying this across continents. Tommi […]

Edible Storm Debri; Sugar Kelp Seaweed

Edible Storm Debri; Sugar Kelp Seaweed

I’m often asked;  what seaweed can you eat? What about this stuff (pointing to the piles of spewed up seaweed on the beach that’s been turfed up by the powerful, stormy Winter waves). Hmm, no wonder people are put off eating seaweed. Not all seaweed […]

Foraging on the Isles of Scilly

Foraging on the Isles of Scilly

Unique Island Foraging

Really, like nowhere else.

Sudi Pigott, food journalist and author compared Gourmet Foraging and Dining on Scilly to an experience at Noma – Rene Redzepi’s  Copenhagen restaurant, which, at least twice has won best restaurant in the world awards (S. Pellegrino 50). Noma specialises in using foraged and seasonal produce and has a world renown reputation.

According to Sudi, we were on a level with Noma (Daily Express, 2011).

Travelling to the Isles of Scilly always feels magical to me. I couldn’t get much closer really (well not much) and still live on the mainland. The Scillonian ferry is 10 minutes walk away from my house, and standing in the right place I could watch the boat leave and return daily, in season.

Foraging can appeal to such a wide reach of people, from foodies to wildlife enthusiasts, and Scilly really is the perfect environment for it. A series of islands, low population numbers and a priority for wildlife including birds, plants and sea life, plus a distinct lack of cars and motor vehicles is ideal for foraging to flourish in the clean air and land. Indeed, foraging has happened a-plenty in Scilly in the past, piles of empty limpet shells on (the now uninhabited island of Samson) pays testament to that.

(The Foragers: Hell Bay Gourmet Foraging and Dining Break, Isles of Scilly)

And what about now? Like elsewhere in the UK, foraging has largely been forgotten, and the Coop (the largest food shop on Scilly) is perhaps an over-used substitute for the wild stuff. Local foods are still used though, when available. Though I can’t help casting my eye across all those beautiful fresh ingredients, forgotten in the hedgerow, fields and coastline.

When I first approach Hell Bay with the idea of doing gourmet foraging events, I wanted the best. The best chef, environment and eating experience that would allow the wild ingredients to really be appreciated for what they are – special.  Special, abundant and worth rediscovering.

Our group of enthusiast guests, felt similarly (I hoped), and joined me for 3 days, 3 islands, 3 walks and 3, 5 course gourmet dinners – including the ingredients we’d foraged during the day. Travelling from various areas of the UK, foraging became our common ground, oh, and discussions about the hotel’s enviable art collection.

We may not have looked like foragers, though looks aren’t everything, and in a way, foraging was just the medium we used –  the chosen lense to appreciate the islands and the natural abundance they had to offer. Indeed, both people’s adventurous spirits, and the wild plants themselves came up trumps, my favourite being when we focused on the seashore…

Foraging for seaweeds is tide dependent and on the islands it is also dependent on the times of the boats. On our final day of foraging we got the boat to St Martins island.  A sensitive juggling; this wasn’t the first time we’d got dropped at the opposite end of the island to expected and planned for! A low tide is perfect for seaweed foraging, though not for mooring boats – oh well, we got to the island, were wellied up, well some of us, while others dared it with bare feet or trainers.  Thankfully the coastline of St Martins came up with the goods.

It amazes me that pottering around just one collection of rocks enabled us to forage for a wide range of seaweeds to accompany our dinner.

Sea Spaghetti before harvesting for supper

I had a ‘shopping list’ of 7 seaweeds, which we snipped off with scissors and took, happily back to the hotel kitchen. Idyll memories of aisles of sandy beaches, rock pools, paddling expeditions and a little clambering, looking under kelp forests and getting faces up close to the splish, sploshing water around us. Those who chose to, watched from a distance, enjoying the sun while the wellied ones paddled out to find the freshest finds. We laid out are proud findings on the rocks (who ever took photos – I’d love a copy!) before revising their names and bundling them into our baskets before heading off to lunch.

The evening’s menu was always greeted with satisfying ooohs and aaahs – all the excitment you would expect from a special dinner party. I love that part – although we forage together, I like to keep the evening’s menu a surprise. It’s like revealing a new painting – we’ve worked creatively behind the scenes – myself helping design the menu and advise processes, then leaving the chefs to use their talents and skills to create 5 bespoke courses with a range of colours, textures and visual arrangements. Like art, food comes down to personal taste, though the variety and skill seemded to be enough to please everyone…

Hell Bay Hotel, Bryher, Isles of Scilly (our foraging base)

However.

Some dishes were a hit, while others had a mixed response that might be expected from more experimental cuisine. Personally, Sea Spaghetti (Spaghetti-like seaweed) with Grilled Turbot and pangretta with sea lettuce, followed by Rice Pudding with crystalised Alexander stems were hits with me. Though some disagreed! Other’s loved the hogweed seed biscuits that accompanied Cornish cheeses – for me, I was completely satisfied already and had no room for anymore. All created within the style and quality you expect at Hell Bay.

Unique Scilly foraging it is.

I could list all the dishes of each evening, though just as a taster, here’s the menu we enjoyed on our second evening after foraging on the Island of Tresco and an afternoon free to enjoy the Tresco Abbey Gardens.

  • Sorrel & Wall Oxalis Soup
  • Fennel Tempura Fillet of Hake, dressed White Crab Meat, steamed Rock Samphire,
  • Pan roasted fillet of Venison, Nettle Gnoochi, Frosted Orache, Three-cornered Leek puree, Chocolate & Yarrow Jus.
  • Gorse Flower Creme Brulee with Blackberry Leaf Sorbet
  • Cornish Cheeses with Hogweed & Alexander Seeded Biscuits

I offer bespoke foraging experiences on the Isles of Scilly, my availability is limited, and especially limited in high-season when the chefs are exceptionally busy. Luckily, foraging is best in early spring and autumn – do bear this inmind if you’d like to experience the wild side of these beautiful islands.