Kelp farming is therapeutic, introducing the Salt Sisters group

Today we discovered the Salt Sisters, a campaign to help women in recovery connect with themselves and their inner strength through a connection with nature.

Founded by Colleen Francke, the Salt Sisters use kelp farming as a way to recovery and support.

“This project isn’t just about growing kelp, helping the environment, or diversifying out of a troubled industry,” says Francke. “I want to show others, and largely women like myself, who may think that they have nothing or no way out of where they are, that in fact they have every opportunity in the world.”

We can’t support this enough! We salute you, Salt Sisters! Keep up the good work.

Read the full article here from National Fisherman

New report: "Development of Offshore Seaweed Cultivation: food safety, cultivation, ecology and economy"

Offshore of northern Europe, a seaweed farm known as NSF (North Sea Farm). NSF was established in 2014 and is committed to developing a strong and healthy seaweed supply chain, in and from the Netherlands. This farm has been studied in a number of ways to assess ecological and economical impacts.

A recent report was just released evaluating economics, food safety, and ecological impacts of offshore seaweed farming.

Studies like these are extremely valuable to validate ecosystem services provided by seaweed farming, and should be conducted in numerous locations around the USA to be ecosystem specific.

General conclusions from the report below

  • high variability in chemical and contaminant composition of kelps, with only one month between sampling moments, was observed. This demonstrates the potential to harvest at the right moment, to provide the processing industry with desired products. However, it simultaneously shows the challenge to provide products with stable biochemical composition.

  • economic analysis indicates that relatively low-value markets such as the alginates are within reach for seaweed production in the North Sea, though for the near future a mix of medium- and low-value markets needs to be targeted

  • seaweed cultivation can have significant effect on the surrounding ecosystem, including biodiversity enhancement. But site specific information is required for the North Sea to evaluate how this activity relates to for example requirements by marine framework directives, and if farm management can further stimulate the ecosystem services provided by seaweed cultivation (through timing of harvest and/or technical adaptations to become more nature inclusive).

North America's first-ever seaweed-focused restaurant week

Most people know seaweed is a sustainable, nutritious, and versatile food source, but the majority of the public doesn’t know what to do with it in the kitchen.

Josh Rogers, owner of Heritage Seaweed in Portland ME, was well aware of this disconnect and conceived the idea of Seaweed Week as a way to bring the public’s attention to seaweed.

Seaweed Week, is being organized for April 26 through May 4 in Portland to spotlight businesses across greater Portland that champion sea vegetables and challenge others to start innovating with them. It will feature sea greens on menus at eateries, bars, breweries and distilleries.

Visit www.seaweedweek.org for more information.

Seaweed Pie Recipe for Pi Day (3.14)

Today is march 14th (3.14), affectionately known as Pi day, representing the mathematical constant π approximately equal to 3.14159. The day is typically celebrated, in some circles (pun intended), by making and eating pies. Therefore, we found a seaweed pie recipe from East Coast Living.

The pie is a blanc mange using Irish moss. Follow the link for the full recipe.

Seaweed Beers are Gaining in Popularity

Beers made with seaweed are becoming increasing popular.

Great Lakes Brewing just announced their Irish stout with dulse for saint patrick's day. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Australia, Brisbane’s Newstead Brewing Co . just announced their new seaweed beer “Moreton Bae” which contains Ulva (sea lettuce).

It’s unclear if these seaweeds are simply flavoring, or if the sugars from seaweed are being used in the fermentation process.

Either way, it’s a clever use of a sustainable recourse that could tap into a very large market. The Brewers Association reported: retail dollar sales of craft beers increased 8%, up to $26.0 billion, and now account for more than 23% of the $111.4 billion U.S. beer market.

Seaweed Farmers in Japan are Creating new Varieties to Deal with Climate Change.

Undaria pinnatifida  (wakame) is a seaweed extensively cultivated, and is one of the most valuable edible seaweeds in Japan, Korea, and China. The cultivation season usually starts from autumn and runs through to spring, where the seaweed is grown on long lines suspended in the ocean.

However, the cultivation period has been delayed due to rising temperatures caused by global climate change. This prompted many germlings (juvenile sporophytes) of U. pinnatifida to fall from the strings during nursery cultivation. In response, seaweed farmers are creating new verities of seaweed, similarly to how a traditional land based farmer would cross pollinate varieties of fruits and vegetables. (For more information on the process read this article)

In a recent paper, researches crossed two varieties of U. pinnatifida to create a heat tolerant variety called NW-1. They then grew NW-1 along side with the standard variety HGU-1. The result was more juveniles remained attached to the long line and had more growth/ individual.

As oceans continue to heat, seaweed breading programs could help seaweed biomass and biodiversity loss due to climate change.

Pickled Kelp Recipe

This sounds so good!

Apparently in Alaska, pickled kelp is a treat sold in stores. They use bullwhip kelp (Nereocystis), which is a brown alga that grows as one hollow stalk, or stipe, through the water column. The long flexible stalk resembles an enlarged whip, which is where the common name, bullwhip kelp, came from. The hollow stalk is cut into rings and pickled.

We can’t wait to try this with other types of seaweed.

Here is a link to an article in Alaska floats my boat, that outlines the process step by step. (Instructions below)

Get your canning supplies ready to go: 

  • A large pot with a lid to process the jars in, and enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch

  • A small pot half full of water to simmer the lids in

  • A large pot to boil the kelp mixture in

  • Colander  

  • Clean, hot pint and/or half-pint jars (keep hot in simmering water or in the oven)  This recipe fills about six pints or twelve half pints.

  • Ladle, spoons, canning funnel, jar grabber, towels to set jars on, lid magnet, cloth to wipe rims, hot pads

If you haven't canned before then please check with your extension service or a reference like the Ball Blue Book of Canning to learn the basics.

 

Bread and Butter Kelp Pickles:  

  • 3 quarts bull kelp stipe sliced into 1/4" to 1/2" thick "O's"

  • 2 large onions chopped or sliced

  • 1/4 cup canning salt

  • 1 pint vinegar 5% acidity

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine kelp and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle with canning salt, stir the salt through the kelp and onion. Let stand for one hour.  Rinse well with fresh water.

Get your big pot of water for processing going so that it will be at a boil when your jars are packed. Put new, clean jar lids in the little pot, and start bringing them up to a simmer when you start boiling the kelp.

Measure the sugar and spices, stirring the spices into the sugar to prevent any clumping. Combine sugar and spices with vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil to make the syrup.

Add the rinsed, drained kelp and onions to the hot syrup and bring to a boil again. 

When you first add the kelp to the syrup it will turn bright green! 

Pack the kelp and onions into a clean, hot jar. Use the back of a spoon to press the kelp in.  Ladle in syrup to within 1/2 inch of the top. If the kelp is packed loosely then you will run out of syrup before all of the jars are filled, so pack 'em in.

Wipe the rim, put the lid and ring on, and proceed to the next jar. 

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the bath, set upright about one inch apart on a folded towel away from drafts to cool. 

Check that all of the jars sealed. If any didn't seal then put them in the refrigerator and eat the pickles within a few weeks.

Label the jars with contents and date. 

The kelp pickles can be eaten right away, but the flavor is better after a week or so.  

Brown Seaweeds Could be Used to Make Bioethanol

Bioethanol fuel is mainly produced by the sugar fermentation process, although it can also be manufactured by the chemical process of reacting ethylene with steam. The main sources of sugar required to produce ethanol come from fuel or energy crops. These crops are grown specifically for energy use and include corn, maize and wheat crops, waste straw, willow and popular trees, sawdust, reed canary grass, cord grasses, jerusalem artichoke, myscanthus and sorghum plants.

Recent research has turned to macroalgae as a potential source of sugars. The most abundant sugars in brown algae are alginate, mannitol, and glucan; whereby the degradation of these polysaccharides requires specific enzymes for the release of monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are most efficiently fermented into ethanol by Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli strains of bacteria.

Using brown seaweeds as a source of bioethanol could reduce pressure on food crops, and help draw down CO2 from the oceans. While biofuels still release CO2, they reduce the demand for finite fuel resources.

Here is a link to a chapter in Advances in Feedstock Conversion Technologies for Alternative Fuels and Bioproducts that outlines the process.

NOVAMEAT has Created Artificial Steak using Plants and Algae

NOVAMEAT is a company located in Barcelona, Spain that has found a way to make vegan steaks. The steaks are plant-based and also incorporate algae. The most unique part of their product is they found a way to make the meaty texture by using a 3D printing system (video below).

We reached out to NOVOMEAT and asked what kind of algae is used in their product. While they are still in R&D stage, the most they would say is that sometimes they use macro-algae and other times they use micro-algae depending on the different prototypes and textures needed.

Can’t wait to try these!

Here is a recent article about NOVOMEAT

The Nature Conservancy is Changing its Tune to Seaweed Aquaculture

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the worlds largest conservation NGOs, is changing how it sees aquaculture. For many years the organization has sounded alarms about the dangerous impacts of aquaculture to the environment, but recently has been involved in a number of aquaculture partnerships.

TNC has realized the important role of ecosystem services that some aquaculture can provide, specifically seaweed and shellfish. For example, they found that changing from fishing to seaweed farming, not only takes carbon and nitrogen out of the water, but also promoted more fish and lobsters in the surrounding water. TNC has released a promotional video of a seaweed farming success story (posted below).

“This is kind of a paradigm shift in how we’re trying to understand aquaculture, at least in the conservation world,” said Robert Jones, global lead for aquaculture at TNC. “We’re trying to turn this on its head.”

This is a big step in moving the conversation from aquaculture being dangerous to aquaculture being environmentally friendly.

Read a detailed article here from the Global Aquaculture Advocate

Read an article here from TNC “Sustainable Aquaculture: A viable economic alternative to fishing”

Monterey Bay Seaweeds Featured at F3 Meeting in SF

The F3 (Future of Fish Feed) meeting was recently held in San Francisco, CA. One of the dinners was hosted at the Aquarium of the Bay, where sustainable seafood was served up by chef Charlie Ayers .

Chef Ayers made skewers of smoked abalone and sea grapes (Botryocladia), on a bed of watermelon radish, sesame crouton, ogo, and mirin & ginger vinaigrette.

We were more than happy to provide the ogo and sea grapes. Well done chef Ayers!

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100 year old maps help create historic digital kelp distribution

There are concerns that the global distribution of kelp is dwindling due to climate change, pollution, or over grazing. However, incomplete records of kelp distribution and density make it hard to evaluate the actual kelp loss.

University of Victoria geography Prof. Maycira Costa was introduced to a collection of historical British nautical charts. Dr. Costa quickly realized that kelp distribution was noted on some of these charts.

Using those British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, Costa and her research team have now created the first historical digital map of B.C.'s coastal kelp forests. Now they will be able to compare the historical maps with the satellite images from 2002 until 2017 to better understand how much kelp has been lost.

Read the full article here

Canadian seaweed infused gin wins award

Sheringham Distillery is nestled in the heart of Shirley, B.C.

A few of their gins are infused with the winged kelp Alaria marginata, but their flagship gin, Seaside, took best contemporary gin in the WORLD at the world gin awards.

Seaside gin is described as, citrus/ floral and notes of the sea make our gin as refreshing as a seaside stroll. Made from B.C. white wheat, B.C. malted barley, natural botanicals and sustainable hand-harvested local winged kelp (Alaria marginata).

Creator Jason Maclsaac said., “The kelp in Seaside gin gives it a sense of the region. The kelp also ties all the bontanicals together and balances them out and gives it a sense of umami”

Happy Valentine's Day: Chocolate Truffles with Seaweed

Today is Feb. 14th- Valentine's day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world. One of the most time honored traditions is to show your sweetheart how much you care, by gifting them sweets. Most stores are packed with beautiful displays of chocolates, a holiday favorite.

If you are so bold, you might try some seaweed chocolate. It’s actually more common than you might think. The combination of sweet and salty in chocolate has been known for quite some time, and why not add a naturally salty ingredient, seaweed.

Below is a fantastic recipe for Chocolate truffles from maraseaweed.com

NGREDIENTS

  • 2 level tsps Kombu powder 

  • 5oz milk chocolate

  • 3oz plain chocolate (over 70%)

  • 1oz unsalted butter

  • 6 fl oz double cream

  • 1.5 tbls peaty whisky

DUSTING

  • 2 tsp Kombu powder

  • 1 dessert spoon smoked sugar (or Demerara)

  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

METHOD

  1. Melt chocolates and butter together in a bowl over simmering water. Stir in the seaweed powder.

  2. In another pan, heat the cream until just boiling, cool slightly and add the whisky.

  3. Add cream to chocolate gloop. Set aside to cool and then pop into the fridge until set. (About 1-2 hours, even overnight).

  4. Grind sugar and mix with Kombu and cocoa.

  5. When the chocolate has set, use two teaspoons to shape the mix into rough spheres and roll in the dust. Pop into the fridge until needed.

  6. Serve with a peaty dram or strong coffee after dinner.

Korean style kelp noodles

We have already mentioned seaweed pasta, but did you know about kelp noodles? We don’t mean just kelp cut into strips, but actual noodles made from gelatinous extract from brown seaweeds (kelps).

To make kelp noodles, simply grind dry kelp into a powder, then mix with salt and water.. The sugars within kelp will help make the mix gummy. It takes about 1 cup of dry kelp to make 1/2 serving of noodles. The tricky part is making the mix into noodles. Wait for the mixture to gel then feed through a noodle press.

Luckily, this is a popular dish in Korea and kelp noodles can be found in many Asian supermarkets. The noodles are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as explained in an article on Livestrong. Kelp noodles are much lower in calories than traditional pastas, and are a good way to keep some of your favorite dishes a little leaner.

Cargill works to help make larger sustainable red seaweed market.

Cargill is a company that distributes grain, oil, and other agriculture commodities. Recently Cargill announced that it would be addressing key sustainability challenges for cultivation and harvest of red seaweed through a new program called the Red Seaweed Promise.

Cargill purchases red seaweed primarily for carrageenan, however, some challenges, from climate change and extreme weather events to inefficient farming and harvesting practices, have a significant impact on the quality of red seaweed.

The plan is to enhance producer livelihoods and conserve the marine environment, while maintaining a commitment to source 60% sustainable red seaweed by 2025.

Sebastien Jan, Cargill seaweed strategic sourcing project manager, said: “Red seaweed production is critical to the prosperity of approximately 1 million producers and their communities.

“Today, these producers face multiple challenges, from climate change and extreme weather events to inefficient farming and harvesting practices, which have a significant impact on the quality of red seaweed.

“The Red Seaweed Promise supports producers’ prosperity by providing the training, coaching and tools producers need to adopt environmental and safe production best practices, while committing to sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems.” 

Read the full article here

κ-Carrageenan Hydrogel as a Coating Material for Fertilizers

A recent study published in the Journal of Polymers and the Environment evaluated using k-Carrageenan as a coating for fertilizer granules.

The study focused on addressing one of the biggest problems facing the worlds waterways: nutrification from agriculture runoff. Carrageenan, which is natural sugar from some red seaweeds, was tested as a time release coating for NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) fertilizer grains.

The results showed a 12-18% reduction in NPK loss to water washing without negatively effecting plant growth. The researchers argue this to be viable way to reduce amount of fertilizer applied to cops and the amount of nutrients washed into surrounding environments.

The Study can be viewed here

Happy seaweed day!

Today, February 6th, is national seaweed day (海苔の日 ) in Japan!

In 1966 the National Lionfish and Shellfishes Cooperative Federation Association declared February 6 the day of seaweed. This date was chosen as it marks the beginning of the nori season (early spring).

So go out and grab some of your favorite seaweed snacks to celebrate!

New report outlines seaweed market growth and hindrances.

A recent report by Transparency Market Research reviewed the current economic status of commercial seaweed. The report highlighted the market value, projected growth, and cited the causes and obstacles to growth.

Value and Demands: The current value of the seaweed market is valued at US$10,573 Mn (2016). the projected market value is estimated at US$26,107 Mn by year 2025. The cited reason for such growth is due to rise in awareness about the medical advantages of seaweed on a daily basis. Seaweed being rich in nutrients and minerals has become an attractive food source. Inferred from it’s chemical composition, the interest for seaweed has been surprisingly high in parts, for example, pharmaceutical, individual consideration, nourishment, and beautifying agents. The demand for seaweed has also been high in the designing of animal feeds.

Obstacles: The report highlights some of the obstacles that hamper market growth. The main obstacle is the high price of seaweed. When seaweeds are compared to other commercially gown agriculture, the price for seaweed is substantially higher. Another issue is rising levels of water contamination. As the consumer becomes more aware of health benefits, they also become more aware of traceability and source pollution.

Research and development of scalable infrastructure will likely overcome these challenges in the near future.

The report can be previewed here