Looking for an art and craft idea? How about seaweed holiday ornaments?

If you are looking for a fun arts and craft idea, try playing with some seaweed. Why go to a craft store and spend all that money when you can take a walk to the beach instead? Thin seaweeds can be dried in as little as one day, and will keep for years as long as they don’t get wet.

Arrange any seaweed in a shape and dry, it’s that easy! If you wish to hang your art you can glue to a poster or poke a hole for a string.

To dry seaweed, simply arrange it on anything from trays to cookie sheets to screens. You can also dry large kelp by hanging them over railings or on laundry lines. Place them in a warm room, in the sun, or in a warm oven. Thick kelp can even be shaped with some coat hangers for a more elaborate configuration.

You can also press seaweed just as you would flowers. Here's how (for seaweeds less than 0.5 inch thick seaweed):

Materials:

  • seaweed
    shallow pan
    freshwater or sea water
    heavy paper
    wax paper or plastic film
    old newspapers

    cardboard
    waterproof marking pen

Fill the pan with water and place the heavy paper in the pan. Then place the seaweed on top of the paper and carefully lift out the paper and seaweed.

Layer materials in this order: cardboard, newspaper, heavy paper with seaweed, wax paper, newspaper, cardboard. Repeat this process with other seaweeds, placing them on top of the first. Then you can move the whole pile to a flat place and put some weight, like rocks or a few bricks, on top. Change the newspapers and wax paper daily (to prevent molding) until the seaweed is dry. Some seaweeds contain a natural adhesive that will keep them stuck to the paper--others may need to be mounted with some glue.

Know you local regulations

Before you take seaweed from the beach, familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. For instance, in CA with a fishing licence you may take up to 10 lbs of seaweed, except from protected areas or protected species. Children under 16 don’t require a licence.

Farm bill passes that dramatically expands federal support for algae agriculture!

Today a landmark farm bill has been approved by the U.S senate. The bill places algal farming as a top concern for the country and gives algal farmers some of the privileges that traditional farmers have always had.

  • Crop Insurance– Algae are explicitly added under the definition of “agricultural commodity” for the purposes of federal crop insurance programs, paving the way for federal crop insurance for algae production

  • Algae Agriculture Research Program– Establishes a new USDA Algae Agriculture Research Program to address challenges in farm-scale algae production and support development of algae-based agriculture solutions

  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program– Provides for the first time full eligibility to algae under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. BCAP provides financial support to farmers for establishment, production and delivery of new biomass crops

  • Biobased Markets Program (BioPreferred)– Directs USDA to establish methodology providing full credit for biobased content for products from biologically recycled carbon. Current USDA methodology excludes biobased products from recycled carbon.

  • Biorefinery Assistance (9003 Loan Guarantee) Program – Expands the section 9003 loan guarantee program to allow algae-based and other biorefinery projects for the manufacture of renewable chemicals and biobased products to qualify regardless of whether biofuels will be produced

  • Carbon Capture and Use – Adds several provisions expanding CCU research, education and outreach at the Department of Agriculture

This is a big win for algae and the USA!

The bill is to cross president trumps desk for a final signature before Christmas.

You can read the entire 800 page bill here

Climate change is raising iodine levels in seaweed. Cause for alarm? We think not.

A recent publication in Global Change Biology, reported that changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions, due to climate change, are raising the levels of iodine in seaweeds that can transfer up the food web. We think this is a great paper, and we strongly believe that many aspects of the ocean should be analysed to model future ocean conditions. Most work on algae in respects to climate change have been limited to calcifying reds, and the coral symbiot zooxanthellae. Seaweeds are the second largest biomass harvested from the oceans and more research is needed for that market.

A few news articles ran with the idea that seaweeds are becoming toxic, and are making headlines. While humans need iodine, too much can cause some of the same symptoms as iodine deficiency, including goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland) (NIH). However, we suggest caution when saying all seaweeds will become toxic.

For instance in the paper the study species Saccharina japonica was used, which is a species that is known to already have high concentrations of iodine. Saccharina and other species of brown seaweeds (kelp/ kombu) have much higher concentrations of iodine than other species (see figure below). Most consumed seaweeds (dulse, nori, wakame) have iodine levels 5x lower than Saccharina, and even with increases from climate change would not be considered dangerous.

People around the world choose to eat seaweeds because it’s rich in minerals including iodine, and we suspect this fact will not change. We encourage people to pay attention to the nutrition labeling on seaweed foods and monitor how much they consume. When reading papers or nutrition labels, note the seaweed condition (Dry vs. fresh). Most weight in seaweeds is attributed to water, and a serving size between dry and fresh can be a large difference. We also want to emphasize that iodine is not accumulated in your tissues, such as heavy metals.

We hope good studies like this continue, but use caution when reading news that oversimplifies the results.

 Image from American Thyroid Association 2004.  Full article here

Image from American Thyroid Association 2004. Full article here

Seaweed common names: Kombu

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.

Previous posts include: Nori, Wakame, Laver


Kombu is a common name for seaweeds that typically belong to the group of brown seaweeds: Laminariaceae. Kombu is traditionally used for soup stocks, salads, and even fertilizer. Brown seaweeds are high in minerals and by adding them dishes one can improve the nutritional value of their food.

The word kombu is Japanese, but it’s thought to be borrowed from the Chinese. In old Japanese the word for seaweed was “me” as in “waka-me”. The predominant theory, is that kombu is derived from the Chinese word 昆布 kūnbù, which is traced back to the 3rd century in China. However, records from the 8th century are spotty at best in their descriptions of kūnbù, and it is impossible to know what species of seaweeds they were referring to.

Nowadays there are modifiers to separate the different species of kombu. (Borrowed from Wikipedia).

However, in other parts of the world the term kombu is used to describe other species of brown algae such as Saccharina or Laminaria. For example, the company Salt Point Seaweed calls Laminaria setchellii, California kombu.

MOROCCAN LAMB STEW WITH DULSE

It’s early December now and the weather has taken it’s turn to cold and rainy on the central coast of California. The kind of weather that makes you want a warm drink in your hands and a bowl of hot stew for dinner.

While looking up stew recipes we came across this one for MOROCCAN LAMB STEW WITH DULSE provided by Mara Seaweed.

Can’t wait to give this one a try on a cold rainy day.

Kampachi farms was awarded a $3.3 million grant to study seaweed as a source of energy and food

Kampachi farms was awarded a $3.3 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE) to study seaweed as a source of energy and food.

Kampachi farms is best known for growing King Kampachi (Seriola rivoliana). Now the Kampachi Company's Kyphosid Ruminant Microbial Bioconversion of Seaweeds (KRuMBS) project aims to culture seaweed for feed, fuel, and food.

Read more here from Undercurrent news.

Seaweed common names: Laver

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.

Previous posts include: Nori, Wakame


Laver

Laver, Latin for water plant, was adopted by the English some time in the 16th century. In Wales a popular dish was known as laverbread or bara lawr. To make laverbread, thin sheet like algae were collected from the rocky shores, boiled, pureed, then mixed with oats and fried. It was this popular dish that gave laver its current meaning: thin sheet like algae.

Today laver is liberally used to define edible seaweeds, but more specifically thin algae. Color adjectives became common to separate types of laver, green laver (Ulva sp.), purple laver (Pyropia sp. or Porphyra sp.).

Laver in the marketplace is considered a synonym of zicai (Chinese: 紫菜; pinyinZǐcài) in China, nori (海苔) in Japan, and gim (김) in Korea.

Seaweed common names: Wakame

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.

Previous posts include: Nori


Wakame

Wakame is another edible seaweed popularized by the Japanese. You are probably familiar with wakame in the form of seaweed salad or as the little green strips within your miso soup.

ワカメ pronounced wakame, translates to seaweed, but in modern Japanese dictionaries directly refers to a specific species, Undaria pinnatifida.

Undaria pinnatifida is a brown seaweed (kelp) that grows substantially along rocky temperate coasts. The Latin root is Unda = wavy, and Pinna = pinnately cleft. Wakame in Japanese is derived from waka + me (若布, lit. young seaweed).

As early as the 8th century wakame was known to be harvested off the coast of Japan, China, and Korea. Undaria pinnatifida has since then spread to various regions of the world and has been added to the list of 100 most invasive species. Most recently Undaria pinnatifida crossed the pacific ocean again on debris carried from the 2011 tsunami.

Wakame is typically harvested, dried or blanched, and then sold. Upon purchase the wakame is then re-hydrated by soaking in water or soups.

While in the USA we are more familiar with the term wakame, other cultures call Undaria pinnatifida by other names: Qun dai cai (Chinese), Miyeouk (Korean), or sea mustard (English).

Today many foragers refer to other species as wakame. On the north coast some species of Alaria are being labeled as wakame as there is no native Undaria.

Seaweed common names: Nori

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.


Nori

Nori is the most recognizable edible seaweed in the world. Almost everyone has eaten, or at least seen, sushi rolled in nori paper. Nori mostly refers to the genus Pyropia even though the literal translation is seaweed.

Nori is the word for the Japanese characters 海苔 or . While both characters are pronounced as nori, the translations are slightly different. The first set 海苔 translates in English as seaweed or laver (laver will be reviewed in a separate post soon), while translates to paste or glue.

Historically nori was used to describe all edible seaweeds, which were traditionally ground into a paste as early as the 8th century. It wasn’t until the 1700s that Japanese began making nori into thin sheets. These sheets were made using similar techniques as traditional paper making during the Edo period. The sugars within nori act as a glue, as translated, and will adhere to itself when ground and dried.

The sheets of nori we see today are typically from the genus Pyropia. How and when this term for seaweeds became genus specific is unclear, but at some point Edo fishermen realized when they used bamboo stakes to hold their nets Pyropia would grow on them. Fishermen began to add extra stakes to grow more Pyropia and this began the Pyropia cultivation in Japan.

A seaweed thanksgiving: Gravy

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse, seaweed butter, and steak sauce


Have you ever seen people meticulously put every food item on their plates, then pour gravy over everything? What about those delicious leftover turkey sandwiches with gravy? However you use it, most people would agree, your thanksgiving meal needs that gravy boat.

We recently came across this gravy recipe that uses kombu for savory flavor and thickening. This recipe is vegetarian, but could easily incorporate portly or beef broth so satisfy those carnivorous family members.

A seaweed thanksgiving: seaweed steak sauce

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse, seaweed butter


Today we are introducing a seaweed steak sauce featured in the Wine Enthusiast, courtesy of Junghyun Park “JP”, chef and co-owner of Atomix in New York City. This recipe calls for nori, which is available in nearly all grocery stores. The sauce is Korean influenced using a little soy and toasted sesame oil. Then JP couples the seaweed sauce with a spicy horseradish sauce to give the steak a little spice.

While this sauce was intended for steak, it could be easily adapted for other meats and vegetables.

A seaweed thanksgiving

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse


Today’s addition to a seaweed thanksgiving is seaweed butter.

Butter is critical to many traditional recipes, and what would thanksgiving dinner be without a basket of warm bread rolls, waiting to be buttered?

We found a quick recipe from theKitchn.com for adding dulse to butter. The recipe uses dried dulse, because it’s easier to find in some stores, but if you want to add a little more texture, consider using fresh dulse. If you want to have the taste and feel of bacon bits in your butter, try pan tossing fresh dulse first then add it to your butter mix.

A seaweed Thanksgiving: fried yams with dulse

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dish was mashed potatoes 


Yams are another staple of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. There are many ways to prepare yams, but we found one way that looks especially good.

Yam fries with dulse - While the recipe is not mentioned, it could be gleaned from the basic idea. Leslie Cerier, a chef and author, shared a dish that contained fried yams with dulse seaweed, kelp powder, and toasted sesame seeds. The use of dulse in this dish is very attractive, as dulse is known to be the bacon of seaweeds. Dulse fries well and yields a salty crunch similar to a potato chip.

If you prepare this dish we highly recommend using fresh dulse to get that savory crunch. Fresh live dulse is grown at Monterey Bay Seaweeds.

The origin of the word Kelp, and how it helped win the first world war

The term “kelp” originated in Europe and was used to describe the ash of burnt seaweeds. During the 16th century seaweeds were harvested and burnt for sodium compounds (soda), iodine, and potassium compounds (potash). Seaweed potash and soda were used to make glass, soaps, fertilizers, and eventually gunpowder. The seaweeds that contained the most soda and potash were said to be the brown seaweeds, thus Laminariales became commonly known as “kelps.”

Germany, in the late 1800s, was the largest producer of mineral potash in the world. After the start of the first world war, Germany put an embargo on potash, cutting off the largest consumer of potash, the Americans.

In response, the Americans industrialized kelp harvesting in southern California to produce potash for gunpowder.

The kelp harvesting industry has since declined as other sources of compounds were found. However, it was this industrial wartime in the early 1900s that led to intense kelp forest research which has continued to this day.

 Hercules Powder Company (South Bay Historical Society)

Hercules Powder Company (South Bay Historical Society)

A seaweed thanksgiving part 1: mashed potatoes

With thanksgiving rapidly approaching, we thought we should start looking into some traditional dishes that incorporate seaweeds. This is the first post in our segment, “A seaweed thanksgiving.” Enjoy!

Traditionally Americans celebrate the 4th Thursday in November as thanksgiving. The celebration is a representation of the first thanksgiving celebrated by the pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. They were joined by the Native Americans who had helped the pilgrims forage in an unfamiliar land. Later thanksgiving was declared a federal holiday in 1863 by president Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War.

Unfortunately, the pilgrims and Natives have a complicated history, to say the least, that has soured many peoples perception of the holiday. We will only be focused on the holiday as a time to spend with friends and family, and more specifically, sharing food.


mashed potatoes.

The fist dish is a cornerstone of the American thanksgiving feast: mashed potatoes.

This recipe by Michael Voltaggio is a twist on the classic dish using dry Kombu

Kombu is a common name from Japan for edible kelp, typically from Laminariaceae. Kombu is commonly available in stores, however, we always encourage exploration into using fresh seaweeds. If you know your collection requirements in your area, then go forage for some of your favorite kelp (remember none are harmful). If you are unaware of your local restrictions, you can always order other fresh seaweeds from Monterey Bay Seaweeds.


Seaweed extracts used to make clothing

This is just too cool! We have reported before how seaweed extracts can be used for various plastic materials, but now the ADAY company has a new clothing line: the planet bae collection. The collection has various clothing items that are made from seaweed extracts. We looked into them a little and found out that their shirts are around 25% seaweed!

This is really exciting news for a number of reasons. The first being that this is the first reusable item made from seaweed that we have seen hit the markets. The focus thus far has been on replacing single use plastics. The second reason for excitement is the clothing industry is known to be extremely harmful to the environment, which has created an outcry for more sustainable clothing products.

Stressed out? Take a relaxing seaweed bath.

When people get overworked or stressed out, there is hardly a better cure than a spa day. In the USA we are all too familiar with the famous mud-bath treatment, but have you heard about seaweed baths?

In Ireland, seaweed baths have been around for hundreds of years. The monks during the 12th century realized that heating water and seaweed released their “healing” alginates. How exactly these monks determined healing properties of seaweed sugars is unclear. The current literature however, does show alginates are excellent for wound healing. Alginate dressings in the dry form absorb wound fluid to re-gel, and the gels then can supply water to a dry wound, maintaining a physiologically moist microenvironment and minimizing bacterial infection at the wound site.

You can still go to Ireland spa retreats and enjoy various seaweed baths. One traveler describes their experience at Voya Seaweed Baths.

Want to try a seaweed bath? You’re in luck! There are a number of spas offering the seaweed treatment (google away). If you can’t shell out the cash for a spa day, we found a company that sells seaweed bath products.