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

Seaweed folklore: Predicting rain

Over the weekend, people in the USA sought weather advice from a rodent. Groundhog day (Feb. 2nd) is a superstitious tradition where if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. 

There are many different superstitions across cultures to predict weather, some have a kernel of truth while others are outright ridiculous.

Did you know that seaweeds have been used to predict rain? The tradition is to hang dried seaweed outside with a nail. If the seaweed stays dry the weather will be sunny and dry. If the seaweed is wet and flexible, as if it had just been from the ocean, then rain is coming.

The origin of this tradition is unknown, but the kernel of truth is valid. Seaweeds are able to dehydrate and re-hydrate over and over. If there is enough moisture in the air the dried seaweed will re-hydrate. It turns out that moisture in the air can be a decent indicator of rain.

If you want to read about some other interesting weather predicting traditions there is a good article here

Umami- What it is and how you get it from seaweed

You may have come across the word umami, it’s commonplace in Japanese restaurants and on packaged foods such as ramen or seaweed. Umami can be described as a pleasant "brothy" or "meaty" taste with a long-lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue.

Umami, is a loan word from the Japanese  (うま味), umami can be translated as "pleasant savory taste." The word was first proposed in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda. It wasn’t until 1985 the term was recognized as a scientific term to describe the taste of glutamates and nucleotides at the first Umami International Symposium in Hawaii. This symposium is still active today.

The English synonym would be Savory

Seaweeds are known to produce Umami flavor and are commonly used to make broths. A recent article published in the Journal of Food Measurement and Characterization outlined ideal flavor extraction process for Laminaria japonica, and showed all the flavor components. Below is a breakdown of the chemical constituents of the Umami taste in Laminaria japonica.

“Electronic tongue and electronic nose were used to assess the taste and flavor of the hydrolysate, respectively. Hexanal (43.31 ± 0.57%), (E)-2-octenal (10.42 ± 0.34%), nonanal (6.91 ± 0.65%), pentanal (6.41 ± 0.97%), heptanal (4.64 ± 0.26) and 4-ethylcyclohexanol (4.52 ± 0.21%) were the most abundant flavor compounds in the enzymatic hydrolysate with % peak areas in GC–MS. The contents of aspartic acid (11.27 ± 1.12%) and glutamic acid (13.79 ± 0.21%) were higher than other free amino acids in the enzymatic hydrolysate. Electronic tongue revealed a taste profile characterized by high scores on umami and saltiness .”

The shellfish industry needs a kelping hand in fighting ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is a daunting problem for shellfish farmers. It turns out that when the water becomes more acidic, the organisms aren’t so good at building their shells or reproducing. Oyster farms off the coast of Washington have already started to see the detrimental effects of increasing acidity.

In response, Paul G. Allen awarded $1.5 million to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund to investigate how kelp could help. Kelp and other seaweeds are able to take up CO2 out of the water, and therefore would make a micro climate of less acidic water. The research being led by Dr. Jonathan Davis , is specifically aimed at how kelps could be used around shellfish farms to create a acid buffer.

Davis is so optimistic, he has already began researching how the seaweed can be used as an additional commercial product for shellfish farmers. He is actively exploring kelp uses from food to fuel.

This multi-culture approach is really good idea. First off, these seaweeds would contribute to carbon drawdown, aiding in the removal of CO2 in the oceans. Additional benefits are protecting a farmers shellfish product while also adding a new revenue stream by selling seaweed products.

You can read more about the project here

You can read an article about Dr. Davis here

Blooming 3D-jelly cakes made from seaweed sugars.

If you haven’t heard of a blooming 3D cake, make sure you check out the video or link below. These cakes are built upside down into a jelly cake to create beautiful, edible, works of art.

A recent article highlighted Siew Heng Boon of Jelly Alchemy , who makes her cakes from algae-based gelatin rather than sourced from animals, this makes her cakes vegan friendly.

These cakes look amazing and incredibly fun to make. The video below shows how they are made.

New artificial shrimp are made from algae

A San Francisco based company called New Wave Foods, has just created artificial shrimp from algae products.

Shrimp is a favored seafood in the United States, however, shrimp harvesting and farming has many negative ecological consequences. Enters New Wave Foods: they have found a way to make synthetic shrimp from a variety of algal products. The shrimp texture comes from brown seaweed sugars, the flavor is from green algae oils, and the coloration is from red algae pigments.

Not only are these shrimp vegetarian, but also environmentally friendly.

Watch a video below on how these “shrimp” are made

Extracting proteins from seaweed just got a little easier.

If you were to talk into your local GNC vitamin shop, you would quickly realize that there is a wide range of options for protein supplementation. Depending on your price range, dietary restrictions, and ethics, you can choose from a variety of protein sources: milk, soy, pea, egg, hemp, rice, and other plants.

Why don’t we see seaweed protein? Seaweeds are fast growing, rich in protein, and are highly sustainable. A recent publication in the Journal of Applied Phycology suggests that their complex polysaccharide matrix hinders protein extraction. Reported conventional methods for seaweed protein extraction include aqueous, acidic and alkaline methods where extraction yield varies from 24 to 59%. The study focused on using enzymes to enhance the extraction process and was able to extract 74% of the proteins from giant kelp (M. pyrifera)

These results establish a firm basis for further studies on seaweed protein extracts as potential functional ingredients, or towards the production of bioactive peptides through a straightforward, and environmentally sustainable methodology.

From the makers of the seaweed surfboard, comes Triton flip-flops: sandals made from algae!

Flip-flops are the number one shoe in the world, and many are made from polymers that don’t break down, causing more pollution in our landfills and oceans.

Triton flip-flops are made from algae and are completely compostable. These alternative materials can help companies and consumers wane off disposable plastics.

Algae derived materials are growing in form and function and we expect that trend to continue.

Watch the video below about this new amazing product.

Shrimp farming is getting a boost from incorporating seaweeds

Aquaculture is beginning to shift from mono-culture to integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA). While IMTA is still relativity a new idea in the industry, nature has been doing it all along and new studies keep illustrating the benefits.

A study just came out this month (Jan 2019) that looked into adding seaweed to shrimp farms. The study added three seaweeds: Gracilaria vermiculophylla, Ulva lactuca,  and Dictyota dichotoma to ponds growing white legged shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Then shrimp were infected with V. parahaemolyticus and WSSV to assess disease resistance and response.

The use of macroalgae in co-culture with L. vannamei provided a nutritional benefit that achieved higher growth than the control organisms, as well as improvements of the ammonium concentration and immune response after infection with V. parahaemolyticus and WSSV.

The study concluded that these additional benefits were diet related, however, live seaweeds would change the water properties and testing water quality would be an interesting next step.

This is a good example how a company could change from one product to two while enhancing yield and quality of the original product with very little additional cost.

This research was published in the Journal of Fish & Shellfish Immunology

How ocean acidification could restructure natural seaweed communities

Sean Connell, of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, recently conducted a study on the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on seaweed communities.

The study was completed in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty where volcanic vents raise CO2 and increase the water acidity. What the researchers found was that kelp domination was replaced by fast growing turf species. Not only did the volcanic vents increase the growth of turf species, but also inhibited the production of a primary grazer (urchins). These coupled effects allowed turf species to become the dominant in simulated future ocean conditions.

The upper graph showing the control plot where kelp becomes the dominant. The lower graph shows plots with elevated CO2 that become turf dominated.

The upper graph showing the control plot where kelp becomes the dominant. The lower graph shows plots with elevated CO2 that become turf dominated.

Predictive studies are full of ambiguity, and fail to address longer term trends such as geographical shifts and adaptions, however, knowing these case studies allows us to be mindful of what we might expect along our own coast.

This study was published in Ecology and can be viewed here

Sodium alginate and human stem cells used to 3D-print tissues

Researchers at Penn State University found sodium alginate from seaweed can be used to “print” human tissues. Alginate mixed with human stem cells can be 3D-printed into tiny particles that create breathable tissues.

Currently the technology is limited to small strands, however, the researchers are confidant they will be able to create larger tissue patches in the future. The researchers believe these tissues could be used for bone and cartilage surgery , such as knee restoration, cartilage defects, and osteoarthritis.

Read the article here

U.S. seaweed consumption is growing about 7% a year

James E. Griffin, an associate professor at Johnson & Wales University , claims that the U.S. consumption of seaweeds is growing approximately 7% annually. Griffin made this claim at the NRA (National Restaurant Association) show in May 2018. He also stated that the fine-dinning sector is leading the charge, while the U.S. consumer still lags considerably behind Asia and Europe in consumption.

As with other sea food, most of the seaweed in the U.S. is imported from Asia, about 90% said Griffin. This means that the U.S. has a growing market with little local production. Griffin also pointed out that the seaweed source matters, as they can take up heavy metals from the surrounding water. The U.S. has higher restrictions and oversight on water pollution than most countries, and could be well positioned to pivot to producing rather than importing.

Read the article from Nation’s Restaurant News

Chileans are shifting from seaweed gatherers to cultivators

A recent article in Botanica Marina highlights a shift in the seaweed industry. The seaweed industry in Chile has predominately been a process of gathering off the coast, but that’s all changing now. The Chilean government provided subsidies to seaweed farming activities and investments in local valorization of the resources. The subsidies coupled with an increased number of technical studies related to seaweed resources has enabled the industry to pivot to seaweed cultivation.

New study uses matrix approach to evaluate ecosystem services by seaweeds

A new study recently came out from the Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand, that uses a matrix approach to evaluate ecosystem services provided by a number of marine species.

The list of species evaluated included seaweeds, crustaceans, worms, and more. The services provided were broken into three main categories: habitat & supporting services , regulating services, and provisioning services.

While this study was New Zealand focused, it serves as a good reference of positive impacts by a species. Furthermore, a number of the study species are currently farmed and this study could be useful in aquaculture spatial planning.

The paper can be viewed here

Carrageenan and silver to combat drug resistant bacteria

Carrageenan is a sugar within some red seaweeds that gets a lot of attention in relation to human health and food additives. We covered this topic thoroughly here.

Lately carrageenan has been making headlines as a sustained release matrix for health applications. Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee), found that they could stabilize and extend the short shelf life of silver nanoparticles by adding a carrageenan matrix. The nano composite was able to kill both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and had a shelf life of 6 months. The researchers believe this technology will be useful for wound dressing, food packing, and plan to investigate the possibilities as an anti-fungal and anti-viral agent as well.

The published research can be found here

Read more about the project from the Tech Explorist here