Monday, 18 November 2013

Homemade Hebridean Sea Salt Flavoured With Seaweed

The condiment salt is referenced throughout the Old Testament, not only as an essential preservative but for its useful flavourings in food (Job 6:6). In Genesis 19, Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying the angel's warning and looking back to Sodom as they fled to Zoar. Presumably in Biblical times in Palestine, where salt was readily available from the Dead Sea and Mount Sodom (made of rock salt) a high consumption of salt was to be expected.
Hebridean Salt Flavoured With Pepper Dulse

The word salad comes from the Latin salata; we still season our salad with salt today, as the Romans did.There is also suggestion of a link between the payment of Roman soilders in salt and the word salary. Salt water heals but an overdose make us thirsty, so unsurprisingly Cash  a UK group of specialists is concerned about the effects of salt on health. However it has been a symbol of purity since New Testament days 

 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Matt 5:13

Living on the Outer Hebrides surrounded by clean, clear sea we often go to the beach with a well washed empty milk flagon.

An Island doctor with Hebridean sea water  

Returning to the kitchen, the seawater is strained into a wide paella pan, brought to the boil and then simmered. The simmering takes hours and my kitchen reminds me of Seville oranges and  marmalade making; condensation but without the orange scent but then, pure white crystals of salt

Sometimes I add marine algae  for flavouring. I remove the seaweed with a slotted spoon, towards the end of the simmering process.When the water has evaporated, I use a plastic scrapper to remove the salt from the pan and turn it on to a baking tray.The drying process is completed by placing the tray of salt in a warming drawer or low oven for about an hour. For a finer grain, grind the salt in a blender or clean coffee grinder.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Seaweed in hospital and on the supper table

                    Seaweed has been used for healing purposes since the days of Napoleon, when sailors wrapped it around their cannons to dry before using it as a dressing to stop bleeding . More recently, a British company, Steriseal, has developed Sorbsan, a revolutionary surgical dressing made from the brown seaweed Knotted or Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) harvested off the West coast of Scotland.  
 I've been testing recipes using the Marine algae, Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima), which I harvested at low tide on the Isle of  South Uist. It definitely looks as if it would make good bandage material and it  turns a lovely shade of green when cooked.
Poor Man's Weatherglass  Saccharina latissima

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Seaweed Marshmallows cut to size

    Following a request for a photograph 

                 Monster Marshmallows

The top tier (not visible) is fairy sized. 

Deliciously, gooey Marshmallows made with carrageen gathered, washed and dried
on the Isle of South Uist

Sunday, 10 November 2013

No Animal Was Hurt In The Making Of This Marshmallow

                  In true Robert The Bruce style, the recipe for Marshmallow success was try, try and try again. Making sugar syrup is an art in itself but experimenting with the marine algae Chrondus  crispus in fresh and dried state was this marshmallow maker's nightmare.
                     One concoction was bullied by the taste of the sea, another refuse to set and was a rather dreary colour to-boot. Finally with the assistance of the sleep deprived South Uist doctor, who had had a busy Saturday overnight on call  EUREKA, a white, shiny and tasty marshmallow.

The recipe will be in my seaweed book and to be honest now that I've cracked the quantity and filter of the carrageen (Chrodus crispus), the seaweed set is the elementary part of this sweetie process.
A fluffy marshmallow mix using seaweed in place of gelatine

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sea Lettuce Ice-cream

Foraging the sea lettuce for this ice-cream was hard work. The weather was inclement but this rarely deters your hardened forager. 
I'm interested in sea lettuce because it is a very common marine algae. It's not to be found on the upper shore but there are usually copious amounts of this stunning vivid seaweed in the rock pools of my local beach. Sadly this week the fronds remained allusive,even at spring tide. Eventually I tried exploring a neighbouring beach and my luck was in. 
Sea Lettuce 

I love the blousy salad leaf-like sea lettuce fronds (Ulva lactuca). Its translucent emerald leaves are as vibrant as the jewel. Don't confuse it with the thinner, (equally delicious) ribbon like frond Enteromorphia linza.The larger frond (sea lettuce) lends itself perfectly as a wrap for fish, vegetables or chicken and it makes an inspired, protective layer on a beach barbecue. 

Sewage Alert:

Be wary of gathering seaweed near sewage outlets. Both sea lettuce and linza thrive in areas where fresh water seeps into the sea. 

There is a simple ice-cream recipe in The Forager's Kitchen which uses lemons, single cream, sugar and ground sea lettuce. The recipe suggests using dried sea lettuce, which can be home-dried or is available from an increasing number of commercial seaweed harvesters. Do try Just Seaweed who hand cuts his seaweed from fresh, clean waters. There is also Bod Ayre and  Sea Veg
Creamy, emerald flecked sea lettuce ice-cream

I used a handful of freshly gathered sea lettuce, which I washed and rinsed well. I then towel-dried the fronds before finely blending the sea lettuce in Magimix's Le Blender.

Disclaimer: Magimix gave me a blender and ice-cream machine but they did not pay me to promote either product.