UK Seaweed

Seaweed, a hidden treasure

Things about seaweed you might not know.

Travelling from Japan and Asia, seaweed became a phenomenon of British culinary. Served at many luxury hotels, guests experienced exotic dishes garnished and flavoured with many different types of edible seaweed.

One reason why seaweed became so popular in the UK is the country’s extensive coastline and beaches. The country has long enjoyed a variety of seafood, from fish to molluscs. Seaweeds are organic plants growing under the sea, and the potential benefits of seaweed are still largely unknown. In this article, we will explore different seaweeds from the UK and their uses.

Facts about seaweed

Before we move on to what species of seaweeds are abundant in around Britain, let’s see what actually seaweeds are. Here are some facts about seaweed to enlighten you about this amazing food you’ve been ignoring for years.

  • Seaweed is algae and grows in different colours ranging from red, green, and brown. Each type of algae has varying uses. For instance, red algae is more commonly used for making vegetable gelatins, animal feeds, and fertilizers.
  • Seaweeds are great for health. Surprised? Yes, if taken in controlled amounts, seaweed promotes a health heart by reducing blood cholesterol levels. So from now on, some seaweed in your diet could help prevent a heart attack. Always seek medical advice first. It could help control high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis (thick and stiff blood vessels).
  • Most seaweeds are rich in iron, zinc, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and many other minerals beneficial for health.
  • Many kinds of seaweeds are used in cosmetics as anti-ageing (PDF file) agents.
  • There are around 12000 species of seaweed known to date? About 7000 red algae, 2000 phaeophytes, around 1500 green algae, and 1500 blue-green species of algae or algal.

There are a lot of things about seaweed you might like to know. However, words might be not enough to explain the scope of algae and its potential benefits. Let’s explore different kinds of seaweed commonly found in the UK.

Different types of seaweed and their benefits

Laver or Laverbread

Probably one of the oldest seaweeds to be eaten in Great Britain, Laver’s use goes back to the 1600s. The most common use of Laver was for breakfast as laverbread. But the tradition has long been broken, and is now eaten only in certain coastal areas of Wales.

It is an un-chewable type of seaweed and often served with soups and fish stews. The exotic flavour of Laver is boiled for 10 hours to release its flavour.

Kelp

Kelp is very common around all the coasts of the UK, which have a rocky seabed. Many times pronounced as a monster of seaweeds, it is around 4 yards in length. Many different species of kelp are used in culinary, cosmetics, and organic medicines.

Ever heard of Kombu?

It is a species of kelp extensively used in miso soup for adding flavour. However, once the food is cooked, kelp is removed from it. There are many types of Kelp to experience.

Carragheen Or Irish Moss

Abundant on rocky shores, Irish Moss is commonly found in waters of the British Isles. It is rich in complex carbohydrates called carrageenan. The Irish moss is boiled for half an hour to release the carrageenan used to set pannacotta and fish mousses. After boiling, the slime-like constitution is squeezed in muslin to release the liquid.

Gutweed Or Grass Kelp seaweed

Another abundantly found seaweed across most of UK shores. Gutweed grows in rocky pools, sand, mud, and shells. Forming an appearance like curled intestine, it is a perfect flavour to add in soups, stews, and stir-fries. The best thing about Gutweed is that it can be consumed by drying in a towel and deep frying for few moments. Grass kelp is often used in restaurants for garnishing seafood.

Dulse

Found on the Atlantic coast of Britain, Dulse is a wild seaweed having a dark reddish-purple colour. Dulse is high in vitamins and minerals besides its rich composition of protein. Used widely used in the UK and Ireland. Containing many nutrients like calcium and potassium to strengthen bone structure.

There are many ways to add Dulse to your meals. Add it to salads, pickles as a tartare dressing or slaw. Dulse also goes very well with white fish, eggs, other dairy products and vegetables like onions, Kumara, grains, etc.

Corallina Officinalis

Let’s explore Corallina Officinalis. It is a magnificently beautiful red seaweed, and due to its fronds built on calcium carbonate, it is not edible seaweed. The more common uses of this pink beauty are in medicine preparations and the cosmetic industry.

Peacock’s Tail Phaeophyta

Peacock’s tail Phaeophyta or just peacock’s tail is a brown alga that is more common in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Indian ocean. It is also not edible seaweed. The pattern and texture spread like peacock’s tail are a treat for the eyes. The most common use of the peacock’s tail is an anti-ageing agent in cosmetics creams. 

Samphire

Possibly the better known of the edible seaweeds of the UK. Common places of growth are marshlands. Norfolk Samphire is well known to holidaymakers. In some places it is now a protected species due to over farming. After a good wash, the samphire is boiled in salted water until the the green outer layer can be slide away from the skeleton structure of the plant. Delicious eaten warm with salt and vinegar.

A small solution to the climate crisis?

A report has been published that suggests that adding a small amount of seaweed in the food fed to cows, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 82%. A red algae called Asparagopsis Taxiformis was found to be the best type for reducing methane.

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We prepared this article and accept there maybe errors. We are happy to make any corrections if requested. Always consult a medical professional before consuming seaweed. Eating seaweed is at your own risk, and we accept no responsibility for the information contained in this article. Extensive information is available on the The Seaweed Site

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