Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Seaweed crispbreads freshly baked

These seaweed crispbreads are seasoned with two seaweeds and seaweed salt and are delicious! I mean, fat, salt and umami, what could go wrong? The basic recipe was given to me by my dear friend Paul, and I've incorporated seaweed into the mix to add a lovely depth of flavour and goodness. These also happen to be vegan. They are both crispy and slightly chewy in texture and will leave you wanting more.

Here I share the recipe, plus a little on the benefit of adding seaweeds to your meals.

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Dish of ground seaweed

Gutweed/Sea Greens (Ulva intestinalis) ready to be used in a Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade

I still remember the first olive tapanade I ever had. Rich olive puree, decadently lathered onto toast. Years later I created my own seaweed tapanade for my book: Seaweed Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in which I matched the seaweed Egg wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) into a delicious blend of black olives, garlic and oil.

Since then I've discovered I can use smaller amounts of seaweeds and combine the ones I use. No longer do you need to get hold of one specific seaweed. You can be using a variety of seaweeds such as the three I use and mention below.

This is so easy and quick to make and you can tweak the recipe to suit, or just combine small amount of the seaweeds you have dried and ground. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on!

Egg cup of dried and ground Bladder wrack seaweedPre-blended ingredients for Green Olive and Seaweed TapanadeThe finished dish of Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade

Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade Recipe

An easy tapanade recipe with a few seaweed twists, adding depth of flavour, that umami hit and a nutrition boost.

Ingredients

  • 125 g green olives (drained)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus)
  • 1 tsp ground gutweed (Ulva intestinalis)
  • 1 tsp wireweed (Sargassum muticum)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whizz until pulped. Put aside for at least a couple of hours for the flavours to infuse. Serve with fresh bread, on pizzas, mix into rice or spread on toast. Keeps well.

Enjoy a seaweed tapanade on the beach

 

Yesterday I was crunching on frosty kelp, today the seaweeds are limp and wet again, having defrosted 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 more than 6 hours every day.

Each species of seaweed is suited to particular environments. Deep sea seaweeds (these are sub-tidal and never come above the sea's surface) are used to more constant temperatures, while inter-tidal 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 so, as well as cope with rather high temperatures in the hot sun.

I feel hot and 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 for those seaweeds in.

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

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