S is for Seaweed

Often, when visiting the beach, seaweed washes ashore and stays. The large piles dry out in the sun, usually attracts flies and can sometimes stink. It can be annoying to both the beachcomber and coastal swimmer. Floating around in the warm waves of the ocean or the Gulf can be a drag if you get surrounded by a mat of seaweed. But as nasty, in a sensory way, that swimming in seaweed can be, did you know it is nutritionally wonderful for you?

There are many types of seaweed and they are edible, although some do not digest as well as others.  Seaweed is super nutritious, providing Calcium, Vitamin K and Iron to our diets all wrapped up in a low-calorie food.

There are many sources on line for edible seaweed and how to prepare it. Some you can eat raw.  Search around the internet if you are interested in learning about edible seaweed from your local beach. My favorite source is a local Asian grocery store.

Nori chips and other seaweed snacks are so tasty. You can find them now in most every grocery store. When my boys were little we would hang out at the local Single-A baseball games (my husband worked there) with some of the player’s wives and children. One would bring seaweed snacks with her that she brought from California and my kids loved them. I could not find them anywhere near by us back them but love having nori chips available now. If you haven’t tried them, please do. Check the organic foods or Asian foods section of your grocery store or stop by your local Asian grocer

SEAWEED RECIPES 

Nori Chips

Seaweed Salad 

MY SEAWEED STORY

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’d know that when I lived in FL and AL my boys were in 4-H and they worked on a marine  project. We had a large fish tank and temporarily kept a variety of critters in our tank for observation. When we left FL our Extension officer suggested we take the tank and a few critter with us and continue the project there, which we did. But we ran into a problem: We had sea urchins. Sea urchins eat seaweed. They eat a lot of seaweed.  That summer my car was not in good spirits so we couldn’t make many trips to the beach (about a 45 minute drive). I solved that problem by enlisting some friends who were going to the beach to have their kids collect bags of seaweed for me. They brought back a lot of zip-top bags filled with dried seaweed which was perfect.

Then the oil spilled into the Gulf near us and our beaches were shut down. As the beaches closed we couldn’t get there to collect seaweed for the urchins and my supply dwindled. And we couldn’t put the urchins back into the Gulf since the water almost as far as Apalachicola was off limits. It could be a death sentence for the urchins. We lived on the Mobile Bay and I was happy to find a variety of sea weed for them in the salty part of the Bay. But there wasn’t enough. A friend from Sarasota and her family came to visit us and agreed to take the urchins and a few other little critters back with them. They ceremoniously  put them into the Sarasota Bay where we originally got them.

Observing these urchins was a treat for all of us and new friends in Alabama. They would climb the side of the tank just a little bit to get above a piece of seaweed and hold on with little suction arms. Then the urchins would grab the seaweed and munch on it with it’s “teeth” located underneath it’s test. It would use its spines and suction arms to move the seaweed into its mouth. Urchins eat fast.

Here are some pictures of our aquarium. Click on each for a caption.

Note: Sea creatures belong in the sea. We were given permission by our local Extension office to house them. We were also given permission by our local Extension office to take them across state lines for educational purposes. What we took was approved by our Extension officer because they existed where we were going and could be put back into their natural habitat. Our new Extension office in AL knew what we had, too. If you keep pets and no longer want them, do not put them into the wild. Your pet may not be native to the region and may cause some eco-system damage. Take your pet to a local Extension office, wild-life specialist or pet shop to drop off or get advice about passing it on to the next owner.  A local school might also want to take it for education purposes.  But do not put it into the wild.

 

S is for Squid

Yum!

Squid is a favorite dish in my family. Trouble is we can’t find it often (except frozen prepared brands) where we currently live. But when we do eat it, we savor every bite.

  • Squid ink noodles
  • Calamari fried or sauteed
  • Squid Kebabs
  • Stuffed, grilled, in a stew
  • Salad

If you can find some good squid try this recipe:

PARMESAN-CRUSTED CALAMARI KEBABS

Calamari tubes, 1 pound cleaned

30 6-in skewers

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup panko

½ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Favorite sauce: we like using Ginger People ® Sweet Ginger Chili sauce or garlic-drawn butter

Slice tubes in half, lengthwise. Thread onto skewers. Combine cheese, EVOO, panko, salt and pepper into a shallow dish. Brush the squid lightly with egg white. Dredge squid into panko mixture. Place skewers on a lightly greased rack in a broiler pan. Broil calamari 5-6 inches from heat for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. If using wooden skewers, watch carefully since they may burn.

Serve with your favorite sauce.

Sea Grape Recipes

Did you know you can eat Sea Grapes?

YES, that tropical plant with the purple grapes (or green if you see them only in the Winter while in FL) is a real fruit producing plant. The grapes are ripe enough to harvest in the late summer. Otherwise known as Cocoloba uvifera.Sea Grapes eileensaunders

You can make Sea Grape Wine, Sea Grape Jelly, Sea Grape Jam, a syrup to drizzle over ice cream or simply pop them in your mouth as a snack.

While I have never eaten them, I hear they are a yummy treat but are pretty seedy so beware.

Please don’t pick them from the beaches because this plant is protected by state law and planted for beach erosion control. It’s even against the law in FL to pick them from private property without the owner’s permission. But, lucky you, you can grow them in your yard for your own enjoyment and consumption.  The plants are not frost hardy so if you get frost in your area, you can pick up some already-made jelly at a variety of historical society offices and visitor centers throughout the state.

sea grapes

Ok, so if they’re really seedy is it worth making jelly, etc.?  Why not?

It’s just like making any other jelly BUT, you need to soften the fruit and squeeze it through cheesecloth before you can add the other ingredients and pour the final product into canning jars.

Here’s how:

Collect only the purple grapes, but remember, do not take them from public lands.

Wash and place in a pan. Cover with water and boil until soft. I’ve seen recipes for 30-90 minutes. Just watch your progress and add water if it evaporates too quickly in the boiling process.

Here’s the workout:  Once the grapes are soft and you can mash them or they feel like they’ve loosened from the seed inside, put the grapes into a cheesecloth and squeeze into a bowl.  Be patient, it may take a while to get a lot. Squeeze a small amount at a time to get all the juice available.  You can also use a potato masher to squeeze out the juice. When done, toss out the seeds and skin. Measure the juice.

For every cup of juice, you’ll need to add 1 cup of sugar but not yet. Some people like to add a little water, perhaps to make the total an equal number of full cups.  Ok, now put the juice into a clean pot and add the sugar. Boil briefly then ladle into prepared canning jars.

Put the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, let cool, chill and enjoy.

VARIATION: There’s another variation for those of you who like exact measurements and pectin. It also calls for butter. I’ve used jelly recipes with butter and didn’t like it.  When chilling, the butter rises to the top.

8 cups sea grapes

4 cups water

5 cups sugar

1 box pectin

2 limes or 1/4 cup of juice

1/2 tsp butter

Put the grapes in a pot and cover with water. Boil for an hour or until the seeds separate from the skin. Drain and mash.

Squeeze through a cheesecloth. Add water for a total of 5 cups of juice.

Put the juice back into a pot, add pectin, butter, lime juice and boil.

Add sugar, bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute and pour into jars and put lids on the jars.

Put lidded jars into a hot water bath for 10 minutes, cool, chill, enjoy.

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That’s one recipe. For a sea grape wine recipe try this one: Sea Grape Wine.  If you want jam, then once you separate the fruit from the seeds, puree the fruit and continue with the jelly recipe.  The difference between jelly and jam is the liquid only (jelly) vs the presence of solid fruit (jam). And, for a simple fruit syrup, this one looks good: Fruit Syrup

One day I will make some but first I have to grow a sea grape tree.  See my gardening blog: acoastalgardenersjournal.com for information on how to grow and care for a sea grape tree.