England’s coastlines are bursting with different types of seaweed, which is usually best just left alone. But some companies sustainably harvest it by hand to make food, salt and beauty products. Seaweed is simply algae that grows on rocky shores around our coast. Never let dogs eat seaweed (they like the taste or to play with the fronds) as it can expand in the stomach as it dries.
Although widely eaten in Asia, seaweed here of some types if edible, and has iodine (talk to your doctor, because most people with thyroid problems can’t eat it, or it will be iodine overload). For everyone else, the naturally salty taste is a good way to reduce salt, and ‘make the taste of fish’, without actually eating it.
We have around 700 species (black, pink, green) but not all are edible, and most can’t be seen above ground. Leave harvesting to professionals who ‘give seaweed a haircut’. Pulling seaweed from the roots is like digging up a tree by the roots. Galloway Wild Foods writes ‘It’s a rockpool to you, but a universe to a shrimp!’ The Cornish Seaweed Company sells sustainably harvested items that you can find in stores. Not everything is in zero waste packaging (like the salt) but most is. Different types of seaweed include:
- Sea spaghetti tastes like mild salty asparagus
- Kelp (kombu) has a salty, sweet smoky taste
- Dulse is used to make vegan bacon!
- Sea Greens is often called ‘Chinese fried seaweed’
- Irish Moss (carrageen) is used to replace gelatine to make setting agents. It’s popular in beauty products and so nutritious that people used it to survive, during the Irish potato famine.
Vfish Vegan Fish Sauce combines 3 different seaweeds with shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce, to produce a sauce with all the ‘fish’ flavour, but without the fish. Clearspring offers seaweed seasonings and agar-flakes.
Seaweed Beauty Products