DIY Sustainable Seaweed Harvesting Tips

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Live in a coastal area? Here are a few sustainable seaweed harvesting tips for gathering your own edible seaweed for free…

Seaweed is a powerhouse of nutrition, and may fairly be called a “superfood” in some circles.  There are many different types of seaweed, and while none are toxic, some are more tasty and nutritious than others. Some types of seaweed that are popular for eating either fresh or dried are sea lettuce, nori, wakame, kombu, dulse, among others.

You can buy seaweed in many health food stores and international food markets, but it is often quite expensive. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you have easy access to a coastline with clean water (not near a large city or urban area, where the water quality may be questionable at best), you can forage your own seaweed for free rather easily. Be sure to consult your local county or state authorities first for any restrictions or permits that may be required.

Here are a few tips for sustainable seaweed harvesting, according to ModernFarmer.com:

How to Do It

You want the freshest possible seaweed, not the stuff that washed up weeks ago and is piled up in a stinking mat of debris at the high tide line. The optimal time to harvest is at low tide on a calm day, when you can safely wade into the shallows and harvest directly from the beds of living seaweed (bring water booties to protect your feet from the rocks). Using scissors or garden clippers, cut off no more than half of a given plant so that it can continue to photosynthesize. Never pull the plant up from the base. Alternatively, go to the beach after a big storm and harvest the piles of fresh seaweed that have just washed ashore.

Bringing the Harvest Home

Mesh bags are ideal for collecting and transporting seaweed, as they allow the water to drain out. If you’re going to be at the beach for a while and the weather is hot, you may want to bring an ice chest to keep your harvest from becoming a slimy mass. Remove shells, stones and other loose debris. Fill a plastic tote with clean water and repeatedly dunk and swish the seaweed until all the sand has floated to the bottom of the container. To dry, simply stretch a piece of rope across a sunny area and string the seaweed along it like laundry. Store your harvest in glass jars.


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