Harvesting Seaweed to Eat – Ulva Sea Lettuce
Ulva sea lettuce is one of the most prevelant and easy to harvest wild seaweeds in the world. Like almost all edible sea vegetables, it’s easy to dry and store. It’s texture and color is similar to blanched spinach, and it’s completely tasteless if prepared correctly.
Sea Lettuce Facts
According to Pacific Feast, ulva sea lettuce is high in both protein and carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients. It’s also high in vitamins A, B-3, and magnesium. According to Livestrong, a 3.5 oz serving of ulva algae contains 41.7g of carbohydrates, 22.1g of protein, 29.1g of fiber, but only 0.6g of fat. It’s very low in fat, and may decrease cholesterol, though that remains to be proven.
Seaweed harvesting is very easy. You can find it on nearly any beach in the world at low tide. I prefer to collect my seaweed to eat from the water, in a small boat. One easy way to collect it is to pull it off of large, mature stalks of bull kelp. It frequently will grow on the top of the floating stalks like green hair.After collecting, you should dry or cook edible sea vegetables as soon as possible. Like all sea food, seaweed algae doesn’t last long out of the water. However, dried seaweed salad lettuce can last for years without losing much of its nutritional value.
Because of it is highly prevalent and grows nearly everywhere, sea lettuce recipes are great for boaters to know. A 30 second blanch provides the equivalent of steamed spinach as a side vegetable for a meat dish or an easy base for any sea weed salad.
How to Dry Seaweed
Making dry seaweed is a pretty simple process. Just wash in fresh water and toss on the food dehydrator. The hardest part is cleaning debris and sand fleas from the sea lettuce. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to put a handful into a colander and swish as you run water over it. If the holes in your colander are big enough, most of the material will wash out. The larger sand fleas can be picked out by hand.
Ulva sea lettuce is only a few cells thick, so it dries in only a couple hours in the food dehydrator. I typically set mine at its lowest setting, but if you can think of a reason to dry at a high temperature, please let me know.Once the sea lettuce is dry, it’s easy to store into a mason canning jar. Any sand fleas that you missed will show up bright red. They are really easy to spot and remove at this point. For those without much patience, it may be easiest to give the ulva sea lettuce a quick rinse and worry about picking off the sand flea after they are dry.
Check out the video below to see how I prepare sea lettuce before drying. Also, if you can think of a better way to clean it, please leave a comment.
Cooking with Seaweed
Prepared in the manner above, sea weed salad will have a subtle sea flavor when added to dishes. This can be good in small quantities when added to soups. Some people find this flavor appealing, but I personally find it disgusting. It basically tastes like a beach smells at low tide on a hot summer day…. not appealing to my pallet.
To remove this flavor, I soak this wild seaweed in fresh water for a half hour to an hour. Then I blanch the edible sea weed by dipping it into rapidly boiling fresh water for 30 seconds. This process makes the sea lettuce completely tasteless and gives it an attractive bright green color that makes any meal or salad look more appealing.