Buying seaweed is all well and good, but considering that the stuff grows on all coastlines all around the world means that there is another way to get seaweed into your kitchen. Even me living under a sign shop in Las Vegas have a source pretty close at hand, the Californian coastline, to harvest. Harvesting seaweed yourself means that you are sure that it is fresh, not to mention a lot cheaper than buying it from the shop.
Bare in mind, that there are some legalities involved in harvesting seaweed, so make sure you read up on your local laws. Additionally, see that before you take yourself into the ocean, you have the permission of the local landowner or governmental agency before you continue. In California, you can harvest about 10lbs of wet seaweed a day before you require any special licenses or permits. You’d be surprised how much that amounts to.
Here Are a Few Notes on Harvesting Your Own Seaweed:
Make sure you are harvesting from the ocean.
Sounds daft, I understand, but keep in mind that seaweed sometimes grows in rivers too. These tend to be poisonous, so it will not be a good idea to eat these. Most ocean species are reasonably safe, once you familiarize yourself with the edible species. Also keep in mind to avoid polluted areas, as seaweed tend to absorb toxic heavy metals (which is actually one of its health benefits to you.)
Cut seaweed off rocks, but leave the holdfast and stem.
Using a sharp knife, it is quite easy to get seaweed of the rock it’s anchored to. However, you must be careful not to cut too close to the rock when you harvest your seaweed. Seaweed does not have traditional roots, but anchor themselves to rock using something called a holdfast. It is like a foot that grows onto the rock itself from which the seaweed sprouts. By leaving the holdfast intact, the seaweed will soon recover from harvesting and will grow back ready for the next time that you are there.
Dry your seaweed for easy transport
It may look peculiar hanging your seaweed from a clothesline, but this is actually the best way to dry your seaweed. Unlike other herbs and vegetables, seaweed actually dries best in direct sunlight. Laying it on sand free flat rocks or on a clean surface will also be sufficient. It’s a lot lighter when all the water is gone and is quite easy to store. I often use glass jars to get the job done after mine’s been dried.
Types of Seaweed to Harvest:
Dark green in color, look for it attached to rocks in the intertidal zone. It is also delicious.
This grows in dense beds and can be identified by its large leaves and berry-like bulbs. Just be sure to check for herring eggs before harvesting this kelp, as it’s illegal to harvest the eggs without a permit.
Strangely enough, Sea Lettuce looks almost exactly like your garden variety lettuce
This thin, wide-leaved seaweed grows on coastal rocks. It’s nearly translucent when underwater.
Dragon Kelp (Alaria fistulosa)
This seaweed has long, single fronds, growing up to 100 feet in length.
If you ever need to learn more, then we recommend checking this video out: