When is the best time to harvest seaweed?
Most seaweed is best in spring, before too much algae and shellfish start growing on the leaves, but you can pick seaweed throughout the summer in many places.
How do I recognize seaweed?
Seaweed does not have roots like a plant. Instead, it is attached to underwater rocks with suction cups. Because of this, you will never find seaweed on a sand bed. Instead, you may find long straws, that look like grass, growing in this type of ground. It is not seaweed, but seagrass—and it is not edible. Look for seaweed by coastal developments, along beaches with rock floors, or on reefs and rock formations. Even on a sandy beach, there might be rock formations in the water where seaweed can grow.
What kind of equipment do I need to pick seaweed?
It can be tricky to read the underwater landscape from above, so when you're picking seaweed, prepare to get wet. If you are not foraging during the warmest months of the year, you will appreciate a pair of long rubber boots or waders. During summer you can probably just roll up your pants and walk barefoot. Take along a pair of scissors too, for cutting the outer shoots of the leaves.
How do I pick seaweed?
Don't rip the seaweed off the rocks. Cut off or pick the outermost inches of the leaves, and leave the rest of the seaweed intact, so it can grow back. The types of seaweed that can be found near the coast (such as spiral wrack, bladderwrack, and gutweed) can be picked at low tide, without getting up to your knees in water. If you are in search of sea belt, which grows farther from the coast, you’ll need a diving mask and a snorkel. If the water is cold enough, a wetsuit may be necessary. Don't pick seaweed covered in small mussels and algae, as it takes too long to clean.
How do I clean seaweed?
Any excess sand, mussels, and algae stuck to the leaves after picking should be washed off in the seawater immediately. If you need to wash the seaweed again after coming home, you should make a saltwater solution with sea salt in a tub, and rinse the seaweed carefully.
Do I need to be careful of anything when foraging seaweed?
There is no poisonous seaweed—only different degrees of edibility. As a rule, avoid all plants growing on a sand bed or floating in the water, since they are usually not edible. Drifting seaweed is often dead. Only pick live seaweed stuck to underwater rocks, and never pick seaweed close to wastewater discharges or other places with a risk of the water being contaminated.
How do I store seaweed?
Seaweed keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, if you store it in a hermetically sealed container, but if you need to store it longer you should dry the seaweed, either in the oven or by hanging it up to dry for a couple of days. Place the seaweed in a fan-assisted oven at 120C until the flakes are crispy. If you store dried seaweed in an airtight container it has virtually no expiration date. You can always soak the seaweed again in saltwater.