Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Porphyra, laver, lava, nori

I love sweet, it is one of the flavours of my childhood. When I was growing up, Sunday lunch was always a big deal and automatically included homemade pudding as part of the experience. In autumn I remember the warm fluffy texture of the meringue topping in lemon and meringue pie, the tart lemony layer and the crumbly pastry, straight from the oven. In summer, pavlova; large meringues over-flowing with cream and summer fruits. These are both exciting memories and the sickly sweet kind, as I was very familiar with eating too much dessert as a child.

Sweet meringues, with a twist

As an adult, my love of sweet hasn't disappeared though it has been redirected slightly. I try and reduce the amount of sugar I use in recipes and incorporate unrefined sugars rather than the refined white stuff. Unrefined sugar retain more natural minerals. These meringues aren't too sweet, they're made using unrefined sugars and wild Cornish seaweed and are delicious! The seaweed chosen has a good amount of protein in which helps balance the carbohydrate dominance in them too, and if seaweed meringues don't appeal to you, I dare you to try these, especially if you like sweet.

 

 

(Making seaweed  meringues, combining the different brown sugars, little by little, the seaweed and chocolate)

These meringues are a little different. First of all they contain no white sugar. Second, they are small (you don't need to over do it on these) and thirdly, they contain hand picked, wild, Cornish seaweed. They freeze well too.

  1. They contain no white sugar.
  2. They are small (you don't need to over do it on these)
  3. They contain hand picked, wild, Cornish seaweed.
  4. Confession time: It's not my recipe, I've tweaked and altered it slightly, but basically it is from Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen. Highly recommended.

Dried lava seaweed Porphyra, laver, lava, nori seaweed

(My wild picked, home dried nori/laver/lava/porphyra seaweed, then whisking it into the meringue mixture)

Seaweed Meringues with Cornish Seaweed

Makes 65

  • 4 organic egg whites
  • 40 g dark muscavado sugar
  • 40 g soft brown sugar
  • 125 g unrefined sugar
  • 3 tbsp flaked and dried nori/laver seaweed
  • 1 tbsp cocao powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line 2-3 large baking trays with baking paper. In a large, spotlessly clean bowl whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. In a separate bowl, mix the sugars and crush any lumps. Add the sugar to the egg whites, just 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking until the whites are stiff, before adding a further 2 tablespoons. Continue until all the sugar is incorporated into the egg whites. Fold in the seaweed and cocoa powder and combine well.

Using two teaspoons, drop dollops of the mixture onto the lined baking tray with space between each. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the door shut until the meringues have cooled down completely, or leave overnight.

Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks or freeze in a tupperware container, separating layers of meringues with the baking paper used to bake the meringues on.

Porphyra, nori, laver, lava seaweed

I make seaweed tasters (handmade snacks using hand-harvested seaweeds) on all my seaweed foraging courses, where you'll learn so much more about seaweeds. Here's a small, small insight on my seaweed blog.

Karen Pirie, a Cornwall based podcaster recently joined me on a seaweed foraging course to record a podcast for her new venture; Cornwall Woman.

I've known Karen for a few years and find her easy company. She travelled with me to meet our group of keen and potential seaweed foragers on the south coast of Cornwall. On the way we chatted about life, using time well, foraging, nature and love - all the important things of life for sure!

Here's the podcast, which includes snippets about Laver/Lava seaweed (Porphyra species), Dulse (Palmaria palmata) and even Kelp (Laminaria digitata), oh and Karen's favourite Pepper Dulse (Osmundea pinnatifida).

 

 

 

The day was blowy and together with the group we found sheltered crops of rocks where we hid from the elements and talked about and tasted our freshly foraged seaweeds. Later on we found warm rocks to lean against, which were even further out of the wind, and here we enjoyed Spiced Seaweed Broth and Seaweed bread. The recipe for the broth (image below) is here; Seaweed Soup with an Inner Kick and the recipe for the Sea Lettuce Seaweed Bread is here in my Seaweed Foraging Book.

 

Close up of Osmundea pinnatifida

Pepper dulse growing off the rocks

After the course, Karen and I slipped away to check out another beach I really wanted to see at low tide. Here, we got to chat some more about the course that had just happened and the role that foraging can play in helping us prioritise what feels good and how it can help re-balance our lives. Thank you Karen, and all the best with Cornwall Woman, which is all about cool Cornish women and their love-affair with Cornwall.

Seaweed broth with thongweed, kelp and sugar kelp

Hearty Seaweed Broth (awards for taste but not for looks!), fit for a windy Cornish beach when something hot and nourishing is needed. This is just before I ladle it into a food flask and whisk it off to our beach where we'll spend 3 hours learning about its ingredients and much more. If you'd like to try the recipe, here it is again; Three Seaweed Soup with an Inner Kick.

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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