Seaweed should be thoroughly washed and then, ideally,
soaked in water for two hours before use.
The salt content of seaweed means that usually only
pepper is required as a seasoning.
Laminaria species (the kelps) are excellent smoked, if suspended
over a slow oak-chip fire for a time then pressed into cakes, left
to dry and sliced into strips (Surey-Gent & Morris 1987).
Fucus vesiculosus and F. serratus may be used to make
the stock for any soups, chowders or casseroles but should not really
be eaten whole, rather removed before adding other ingredients.
- Fridge: 2-3 days for delicate weeds, up to 1 week
for heavier, brown seaweeds (Phaeophytes). It is advisable to
use common sense.
- Freezer: Freezing only maintains flavour in the
delicate weeds (e.g. Dulse, Ulva, etc.). These species may be
stored for up to 6 months without losso f flavour. They should
be treated exactly like other frozen herbs.
[source: Surey-Gent & Morris (1987)]
Drying is the time-honoured method of storing almost
all perishable foods. The following methods have been tried and tested
but may require some 'tweaking' - so experiment.
Sun - Drying in the sun is the way in which
the vast majority of warmer countries process seaweeds for storage.
In Scotland, however, this is seldom a viable option. If there is
a reliably warm stretch of weather ahead the plants may be hung
or laid out (taking care not to leave hidden folds of damp bits).
They should be taken in at night prior to dew formation. The proper
treatment of carrageen requires that it be sun bleached (in direct
light, if possible) for three days.
Oven / Range - If you are careful not to cook
the seaweed, it is possible to hang the plants over the hob (although
this is wasteful of energy on a conventional, modern cooker). The
slow cook setting on many cookers may be cool enough to aid in drying,
without crisping, the seaweed. However, the best possible means
of drying is by hanging the plants over the towel drying rail of
an old range, although these are few and far between.
Microwave - Delicate weeds such as Ulva
may be microwaved on a very low power (300 Watts.) for 3 minutes.
* * *
Do not, on any account, take any algae from fresh
water for food as these may be blue-green algae (cyanophyceae),
which are highly toxic.
Any of the Scottish seaweeds can be eaten as none
of them are toxic. However, a number of species may cause
severe diarrhoea (but these are not present in any of the recipes
given below - for obvious reasons). In addition, there is
some circumstantial evidence that a small percentage of the population
may suffer an allergic reaction, so take care.
In addition, it is advisable to take seaweeds from
areas where pollution is as low as possible (near clean, open water
away from industrial centres, power stations and sewage outflows)
- use common sense and if you are uncertain then hunt elsewhere.