The wonders of seaweed

Lying between ocean and land, and bypassing the issues of overfishing or intensive farming, a quiet revolution is brewing.

Lying between ocean and land, and bypassing the issues of overfishing or intensive farming, a quiet revolution is brewing. Seaweed, harvested or farmed, can provide a plant-based fish-like flavour, nutritious food source or packaging material – and even help clean up polluted waters.

In our latest Wicked Leeks film, we visit the company behind England’s first seaweed farm and hear about research looking into its many benefits.

How to forage for seaweed safely

Foraging is a free activity, connecting us to nature and to nutritious sources of wild food. But it’s important to follow a few guidelines, always tread lightly and leave plenty behind, and if in any doubt, consult an expert.

Here are a few baseline tips:

– Check the water quality – use the Safer Seas & Rivers Service app, run by charity Surfers against Sewage, for the only national and real-time water quality service to check for notifications of sewage releases or flood water issues in your area.

– Forage from living seaweed growing on rocks, rather than anything washed up on the shoreline.

– Use scissors or a knife to cut seaweed, leaving about a third so it can regrow, rather than pulling it off the rocks.

– There are almost 700 varieties of edible seaweed in the UK but some are easier to cook with than others. Do your research from experts like The Cornish Seaweed Company or Down the Cove.

– Consult experts if in doubt – bloggers like Fergus the Forager, or author John Wright with his Edible Seashore book are both valuable sources.

– Wash your collected seaweed well under clean, running water, before rinsing through a colander.

– Tread lightly, as with all foraging. Respect nature, take only what you need and leave plenty behind. 

Keep an eye out on our Instagram to see Riverford chef James Evans cook with seaweed in the kitchen for recipe inspiration for this nutritious sea green.

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