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Edible seaweeds in Jersey

Our Wild Vegetables of the ocean guided walks are an opportunity to learn about their culinary and medicinal uses along with the history of seaweed gathering.

Here is a list of some of the more common seaweeds (vraic) found around Jersey along with some notes on their uses and locations.

Seaweed gathering tips

  • Check the water quality of the area you are foraging. Check if it is Blue Flag designated beach, Transport & Technical Services Jersey monitor water quality to EU standards. Ensure there is no effluent or sewage entering the area. This can occur if septic tanks run into streams after heavy rainfall.
  • Never eat any seaweed that you have not cut yourself. Floating seaweeds may have drifted in from potentially polluted areas (e.g. harbours and marinas, old mining locations) where there may be heavy metals (e.g. TBT anti-fouling). You may also have no idea how the vraic has been floating in the sea.
  • Bacterial pollution is less of a problem than with bivalve molluscs as seaweeds will not absorb bacteria and are usually cooked or washed thoroughly before being eaten.
  • Harvest no more than 2/3 of the plant . Leave at least 1/3 to regrow for its hold fast to ensure the future health of seaweed populations. Use scissors to cut. Collect carefully, a little here and there
  • Tell someone where you are going, when you will be back, and what to do if you do not make contact by the agreed time.
  • Check the weather forecast and low tide times. Never turn your back on the tide …

Seaweeds (Vraic) around Jersey

Names: Bladderwrack

Latin: Fucus vesiculosus

Location: Middle shore

Uses: Finely cut up and used in vegetables e.g. beans when cooked/simmered over a long time. The pods at the end of the fronds contain a jelly like substance which can be used like an Aloe-Vera style hand cream. Reports of this jelly being sued to rub onto arthritic joints.

Notes: Inhibits the adhesion of Helicobacter pylori. Currently under research as a treatment to eliminate h pylori from the body as an alternative to triple therapy (Rhatigan). Boiled up as a hot poultice and applied to swollen joints.

 

Names: Gutweed

Latin: Ulva intestinalis

Location: All around the coast

Uses: Deep fry, dry and make green nori flakes and use to sprinkle over salads, pizza, noodles or incorporate into bread or fishy sauce, on top of fish dishes and in salads.

Notes: Cultivated in Japan and called “Aonori”.

 

Names: Sea lettuce

Latin: Ulva lactuca

Location: Mid to lower shore zones

Uses: With vegetables, deep fried on fish dishes, in risottos.

Notes: Often present in large quantities where high nitrate run-offs occur. I do not gather in these areas.

 

Names: Sea belt, Sugar kelp,

Latin: Laminaria saccharina

Location: Extreme lower shore in gullies and rock pools.

Uses: stock, flavour enhancer, seaweed crisps (Wright). Wrap fish in kelp before placing on a bbq.

Notes: Called Kombu in Japan. Has a high iodine content, so only use cooked or in small quantities of up to 5cm in dishes.

 

Names: Oar weed

Latin: Laminaria digitata

Location: Extreme lower shore

Uses: stock, flavour enhancer, seaweed crisps. Wrap fish in kelp before placing on a bbq (Wright)

Notes: Called Kombu in Japan. Has a high iodine content so only use cooked or in small quantities of up to 5cm in dishes. Reports used as a bandage due to the high iodine content. Gathered locally and used on arthritic joints?

 

Names: Forest kelp

Latin: Laminaria hyperborea

Uses: stock, flavour enhancer, seaweed crisps (Wright). Wrap fish in kelp before placing on a bbq

Notes: Called Kombu in Japan. Has a high iodine content so only use cooked or in small quantities of up to 5cm in dishes. Reports used as a bandage due to the high iodine content. Gathered locally and used on arthritic joints?

 

Names: Channelled wrack

Latin: Pelvetia canaliculata

Location: Upper shore and splash zones.

Uses: Traditionally fed to pigs. Like a natural multi-vitamin/mineral food supplement and can be dried and sprinkled over food. Cooked with vegetables in small quantities.

Notes: Bright green, when cooked.

 

Names: Velvet horn

Latin: Codium fragile

Location: Grows on rocks and on other seaweeds. Will not survive drying out for long periods.

Uses: Fresh in small quantities cut up and put into salads, deep fry in tempora batter, fried briefly and served as crisps.

Notes:

 

Names: Japanese weed, Jap weed

Latin: Sargassum muticum

Location: Mid to lower shore.

Uses: Fresh, cooked and used in small quantities with vegetables

Notes: Invasive species. Can grow up to 7cm per day.

 

Names: Sea spaghetti, thong weed, sea thong,

Latin: Himanthalia elongata

Location: Rocky lower shore

Uses: Use with spaghetti. Fried and pickled in France. Fried until brown and crispy and served with fish.

Notes:

 

Names: Serrated wrack

Latin: Fucus serratus

Location: middle shore.

Uses: Cooked for 8 minutes and tossed in melted butter in a pan and served as an additional vegetable. Dried and toasted in a hot oven and sprinkled over vegetables. Finely cut up and served

Notes:

 

Names: Egg wrack

Latin: Ascophyllum nodosum

Location: Middle shore on rocks.

Uses: Only reported used as fertiliser.

Notes: The classic vraic cut from the rocks and used as fertiliser in Jersey. Many say the use of vraic enhanced the quality of the soil to grow Jersey Royal potatoes. Reports this weed when dried and ground into a paste (dried/crushed/pt in blender) and then sprinkled over dog food to remove the blackening on dogs teeth.

 

Names: Dulse, dillisk,

Latin: Palmaria palmata

Location: Rocky shores just above and below the low tide mark

Uses: Dried and used like a crisp, freshly cut up and used in salads, dried and used in bread, steamed and used as a vegetable.

Notes: Often found growing on the stipes (stalks) of Laminaria hyperborea.

 

Names: Pepper Dulse

Latin: Osmundia pinnatifida

Location: Mid to lower shore in crevices

Uses: Works well in fishy salads, use fronds in small amounts to add spice to fish salads and miso soup. Dried and ground into powder to make a ‘pepper’ to use with fish dishes.

Notes: Fronds taste very peppery. Some describe it as tasting like raw and very peppery fish.

 

Names: Laver, nori

Latin: Porphyra umbilicalis or P. purpurea

Location: Upper rocky shores, attached to stones

Uses: as sushi. In Wales traditionally boiled for 6 hours (or more) until it turns into an almost black and sticky purée which is called Laver bread.

Notes: Wash very well to rinse out all sand

 

Names: Wakame

Latin: Undaria pinnatifada

Location: water filled gullies, harbour areas, parts of St Aubins Bay

Uses: dried and served in soups – especially miso soups – or salads, side dish,

Notes: Rated as among the worst 100 invasive species (Global Invasive Species Database). Report finds to Societe Jersiaise marine biology section and eat as much as you can!

 

Names: Carragheen

Latin: Chondrus crispus

Location: Rocky shores. Below and just above the low tide mark.

Uses: Wash and dry in a low oven or air dry. Can be used as a setting agent to make mousse or jelly. To thicken a soup or stew, soak the seaweed for a few minutes, place it in a small muslin bag and hang it in the pot

Notes: Red seaweeds are very high in proteins. Commonly used in food production as E407 (ice cream, puddings).

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