For the Jersey Food festival we organised a Wild Vegetables of the ocean guided walk.
The aim of these walks is to introduce people to the history and culinary uses of seaweeds in both Jersey and elsewhere.
The walk was an opportunity to see some of the fantastic seaweeds that grow around our coastline.
Members of the group were soon sharing their knowledge and experiences. Matthew,-who was taking photos for the Jersey Evening Post- talked about his Primary school teacher who used to make the class pop the ends of Bladder vraic to extract the clear gel. This was then used by the teacher to rub into his arthritic joints. I’m not sure where seaweed popping would fit into today’s curriculum!
Another lady recounted how she saved money by gathering Ascophyllum nodosum (Egg vraic). This was dried,ground and sprinkled onto her dogs meals to help remove the blackening on its teeth.
Others recalled the use of Laminaria as a dressing due to the high Iodine content in this kelp.
A lady reported how Carrageen is sold as a drink in the Caribbean. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac when drunk.
We often find people share stories and experiences. This is one of the reasons why we limit the numbers on our guided walks.
As well as seeing and learning about seaweeds the walk included seaweed tasting. We teamed up with Danny Moisan at Danny’s Restaurant Gorey where walkers enjoyed a three course meal with a selection of seaweeds in the ingredients.
Sadly the seaweed sold in Jersey is imported.
A problem facing attempts to commercially harvest seaweed in Jersey for culinary and cosmetics use is the old vraicing law which makes it difficult to gather vraic year round. As a result there is no infrastructure to offer the analysis of seaweeds for quality control purposes when used for cooking or cosmetics on Jersey. We know of one potential local business start-up which now sources supplies from France rather than Jersey because off the limitations of the old law. Ormer farming in Jersey has until recently been with restricted in the gathering of vraic to feed to baby Ormers.
More Wild Vegetables of the ocean walks are listed here.
Private walks are also possible.