Tag: Kelp

Coastal Foraging dates – Jan + Feb 2016

Introductory half day coastal forage and feasting experience

Seaweed-4
Image by Christopher List Photography

WHO IS THIS COURSE FOR:

Aimed at adults but children are welcome to join their parents. Anyone who has an interest in wild food, foraging or indigenous edibles. Chefs wanting to discover new ingredients or foodies wanting to play with the diverse wild flavours in our shellfish and edible seaweeds and discover their unique umami flavours. People interested in healthy living, coastal living, self sufficiency, in the Slow Food movement or those that just want to have a delicious experience in the beautiful outdoors.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
This course will introduce you to some of our local edible seaweed, explore the magical world of rock pools, meet like minded people, learn how to sustainably harvest and prepare your macro-algae and shellfish, make various recipes together that will end in a feast.
We will start off the day meeting at the beach, and after an intro and snack on the rocks we will make our way down around the tidal pools where we will forage for edible seaweeds and mussels. This beautiful coastline is abundant with food, but as we always forage sustainably we will be focusing only on the seaweed that is prolific in the area and the invasive mussel species, stressing how to treat the wildlife with respect. After our morning on the rocks, we will head to Gael’s Beach Cottage on foot with our foraged food to prepare and create an outdoor lunch banquet.

WHAT IS INCLUDED:
This half day course includes wild food snacks and drinks, a delicious three course lunch based on ingredients foraged and prepared by the group. Notes include intro, identification, recipes and tide charts.

WHAT TO BRING:
Beach gear, slip-slops or booties, your mollusk permit (essential – available at your nearest post office), cameras, water bottle, a sense of humour and an appetite! Also please bring your drink of choice for yourself to enjoy with the meal (beer, juice, spring water, wine etc whatever you prefer)

BONUS:

Collect seaweed to take home and preserve in methods learned on the day. Enjoy the benefits of a seaweed face mask in between preparing and eating your meal.

PRICE:
R500 p/person or R1800 for group of four. Children under 17yrs R200, Children under 2yrs free. Full payment will secure your booking as spaces are limited.

DURATION:
4 hours

DATES:

January 9th 8.30am – 12.30pm

January 23rd 9am – 1pm

February 21st 9am – 1pm

VENUE:

Scarborough beach

GUIDES:

Roushanna and Gael Gray

IS THIS SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS:

Yes – with the exception for our Mussel Pot all the dishes on this course are vegetarian and are enough to satisfy even A Very Hungry Vegetarian. All food intolerances are catered for, please let us know in advance.

MAX NUMBER OF PEOPLE PER COURSE:

16

AVAILABLE FOR A PRIVATE FUNCTION:

Yes – Min number of people required: 10.
TO BOOK:
email roushanna@hotmail.com

Edible seaweed
Image by Christopher List Photography

Jellyweed

What is in the gelatin found in jelly, in marshmallows and jams, ice creams, yogurt, puddings and in so many other food products?

Prolonged boiling of the left over goodies from meat industries like pig bones, beef skin, horns, tendons, ligaments, fish by-products – a mouthwatering mixture of edible bone glue …whipped up with a bit of modified cornstarch, a lot of sugar and a few E numbers thrown in for colour and flavour and luck.

Jelly.

Yum yum. Delicious, just the thing to feed our kids.

Dont get me wrong, pasture raised happy-meat gelatin has a host of amazing nutritional benefits, but if you are looking for something little lighter, a plant based option that is easy to use..then read on.

Agar agar can be obtained from different types of red algae. In South Africa we are lucky to have many different kinds of seaweeds that produce the agar which is used as a gelling agent in food.

Dont forget your list of sustainable seaweed foraging rules and your mollusk permit for legal seaweed collecting.

Its a pretty basic method:

Collect seaweed

Cook seaweed in hot water to dissolve the agar

Strain. Add flavouring of your choice

Pour into molds and chill (you and the jelly)

Eat

If you are not up for the whole foraging-for-jelly vibe, most health stores stock agar agar powder. Sun dried jelly seaweed removes the vibrant red color of the seaweed, turning it translucent and flavourless, making it perfect for picking up what ever colour and taste you are wanting to come through in your agar recipes.

IMG_1643

Collecting red jelly seaweed growing on kelp.Kelp beds

Kelp beds at low tide.

Drying seaweed

Sun bleached jelly seaweed.

Agar agar rose panna cotta

Agar agar rose, cinnamon and cardamom panna cotta.

Seaweed jelly

Marsala rooibos chai jelly.

FRUITY VEGAN JELLY RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 cups of water/ juice

1/2 cup of sun bleached jelly seaweed/ 1 tsp agar agar powder

Sweet spice of your choice (optional, I like to use cinnamon, cardamom and star aniseed)

1 cup of seasonal fruit

Honey to taste

Edible flowers to garnish

Method:

Place water, jelly seaweed/agar agar and spice in a pot over a high heat. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 mins. If you want a sweeter jelly, add honey.

Arrange the fruit at the bottom of your bowl or mold and pour the hot jelly liquid over the fruit through a sieve to catch the seaweed and spices.

Chill until set, turn out onto plates and decorate with edible flower petals.

Enjoy!

Remember that in foraging, positive identification is very important, there are poisonous species out there you do not want to be eating. It also saves a lot of wasted experiments in the kitchen with the wrong seaweed that contains no agar…believe me, I have been there!

Want to forage for your own jelly seaweed? Then join us on one of our upcoming coastal forages held throughout spring and summer in Cape Town where we cover a range of our local edible seaweeds and shellfish and discover how to harvest, prepare, cook and preserve them. For more info email roushanna@hotmail.com

Edible Landscape – by Roelien Steencamp

Edible Landscape

By Roelien Steenkamp

There is an indigenous food revival happening at the Good Hope Gardens Nursery, 60km south of Cape Town. Here, Roushanna Gray and her family are reconnecting people with the land by teaching them how to forage, plant and enjoy wild foods which grow freely and abundantly in the Western Cape.

I once overheard an unsettling story. Somewhere abroad, a man went for a ride on his horse. They trotted along a beach where rotten kelp lay piled in thick heaps .The smell was nauseating; a mixture of raw sewage and urine. It was not long before the horse collapsed and died, and his owner passed out. An autopsy declared the death of the horse, and the unconsciousness of its owner, the result of toxic fumes emitted by seaweed.

I have heard similar stories from those living very close to the sea where kelp lies decomposing – keep your room well ventilated because if you don’t, you might never wake up. Whether this was at all true or not, it fuelled my dislike for kelp: it causes headaches, stinks, blocks launch sites, dirties tidal pools, breaks propellers, etc. Little did I know that a few years later, I would gaze upon this abundant seaweed in an appreciative manner, considering it one of my favourite superfoods. Kelp has been a fertiliser for aeons. Extracts are used in thousands of products around the world. It is a huge industry, but how could it be of use to us in its unadulterated, whole form?

Kelp, among other seaweeds and algae, is considered a wild food. So what exactly does this mean? And why is it so relevant to us in this day and age?

Edible Landscape

Image by Christoper List

When I heard Roushanna Gray of the Good Hope Nursery was hosting a coastal foraging session in Scarborough, I was quick to sign up. It was a sunny Saturday and a low tide had exposed exquisite rock pools. With permits in hand, twenty of us gathered around Roushanna with notes, scissors and plastic bags. Our mission was to learn something we’ve forgotten: how to forage, prepare and enjoy what was freely available, prolific and nutritious in our immediate surroundings. In this case, it was shellfish and seaweed. Unfortunately it was red tide, which meant that the mussels were filtering harmful algae through their bivalves and were therefore inedible at the time. So vegetarian it was!

After filling our bags, we headed back to a nearby cottage where we rinsed our harvest in a tub. We divided ourselves into teams and chose a recipe to work with. There was something for everyone: sea lettuce pine nut pesto, tahini wrack coleslaw, kelp lasagne and for desert: candied kelp and seaweed ice cream. A delicious forager’s feast which hardly cost us a thing!

I was also curious about land foraging and arranged to meet Roushanna at her nursery near Cape Point two weeks later. It was a hot day, with the screeching sounds of cicadas filling the air. As Roushanna led me to my seat, I was immediately calmed by her presence, a presence that matched the serenity of the fynbos mountains surrounding us.

Roushanna’s passion for wholesome food has been in her blood since she was a little girl. “I had no plant knowledge. Everything I know now, I learned through research, exploration and my love of food. I grew up with a mixed heritage, so there was a lot of ‘fusion food’. My life out here, and my passion for wild edibles, started when I fell in love with my husband Tom. My mother-in-law, Gael, is a botanist, so we would go walking and she’d teach me how to indentify plants. This nursery has been running for 30 odd years.”

Roushanna also ran a tea garden at the nursery before dedicating more time to motherhood. “We used to serve rooibos cupcakes and fresh salads full of edible flowers and fragrant garnishes.” She pauses and a rush of nostalgia sweeps across her face, “I love how those meals surprised people. They couldn’t believe that this food was foraged from the mountains and our garden, that it could taste that good and be so satisfying. A new world opens up for them.”

Or, perhaps, I think to myself, a very old world they have forgotten…

We talk a bit more about her life at the tip of southern Africa and how it has humbled her. I ask her the burning question, “Just what exactly is wild food and can you survive on it?”

“It would be difficult and would require a lot of patience to survive on it,” Roushanna answers. “Wild foods are foods which grow in the wild, but they can also be found in urban areas, along pavements and parking lots. They are not planted by man. They are dense with minerals and vitamins. I always tell people that wild foods should be one part of their meal, not the whole of it. It adds flavour and nutrients to a dish.”

There’s something different to the way Roushanna talks about food. For her, there’s more to food than satisfying hunger. “I have become fussy since I’ve been eating this way, it’s hard for me to see those sad boxed-up specimens in shops,” she says with a shy giggle. “I feel so good after eating my own food. It connects me with the land, the seasons, the moon, the tides. It’s also very empowering to be able to source, identify and create a meal out of them.”

As we take a walk through the nursery, Roushanna points out several types of buchu and pelargoniums. We also taste some sour figs and purslane. It is a different taste, I admit to her, but it is an empowering taste which probes something long suppressed. After observing my responses, she says, “Our ancestor’s palates were accustomed to bitter foods, now our taste buds are numbed by all the sugar in processed foods. It’s about getting used to it again.”

For many, wild food brings up images of thorny berry bushes and dandelions – things we would consider weeds, or at least difficult to prepare and digest. Is it even possible to create a diverse menu from such foods? I observe the pictures of mouth-watering dishes on the walls of the room we sit in. It becomes evident that there’s a lot to work with: fruits, herbs, roots, flowers, leaves, spices, seaweeds, shellfish, seeds and nuts. Roushanna recommends taking a trip up the west coast for a taste experience, “Kobus van der Merwe, author of the recipe book ‘Sandveldfood: A West Coast Odyssey’, is a culinary genius. He would observe the shapes and colours of the sea and recreate that scene on your plate. I love going to his restaurant Oep Ve Koep in Paternoster.” Geographical location and seasons are important when it comes to foraging, she adds. We both agree that that’s an even greater excuse to travel our beautiful country – to search for food!

Roushanna also offers courses for children. Being a mother of two, she believes it vital to speak of the stories behind the plants: Where do they come from? Who ate them? How did they get their names? This helps the children, and adults, to gain a better understanding of the plants.

“My son grew up watching me forage and loves to go with me. If your children grow their own healthy foods, they are more willing to eat it. If they can associate it with something they love, that’s even better. I always add some wild edibles to all-time favourite snacks like pizza and scones.”

South Africa is a great place for foraging – from mushrooms and seafood in the wild Transkei, to the amazing fynbos and shellfish up the western coast, you’ll be busy for days. It’s worth doing some research on your next destination and speaking to locals. Searching for your own food can add an extra dose of adventure to weekends away.

Before I say goodbye to Roushanna, I ask her how she – a true forager – would describe her relationship with nature. She grows quiet for a moment, shakes her head as if in utter disbelief of how lucky she is and concludes,

“Without it, I’d be heartbroken. It is a big part of me, it is my therapy. I also enjoy watching my kids grow up in it. When I go surfing, I am humbled completely. I am in the present moment. All I think about are the waves. The act of foraging is similar. It brings me peace and happiness; it gives me a sense of place in this crazy world.”

As I leave the nursery, I drive along the cliffs bordering False Bay. It feels as if a thick veil has been removed from my eyes. I no longer just see shrubs flashing past me and rock pools in the depths below. I see an edible landscape.

Our ‘instant gratification culture’ has done a lot to disconnect us from nature. We are so used to heading off to the shops to quickly fill our trolleys with “ready to eat” foods. We have forgotten the greater gratification that comes from ‘Slow Food’ – taking our time to forage, plant, harvest, prepare and chew our food with thoughtfulness – savouring each mouthful, even if it’s something you never thought you’d ever like (in my case, kelp!).

Foraging was vital for survival before the advent of agriculture, but it is still vital today for a different reason: to reconnects us with the land.

To ground us.

Roushanna’s tips on how to eat wild:

1. Identification is the most important part! Ask an experienced guide or local. Observe, taste, smell, touch, make notes.

2. Plant the edibles in your garden. It will teach you how to identify them more easily out in the wild, as well as to develop a taste for them.

3. When in doubt, leave it alone: be 110% sure of edibility.

4. Know which parts of the plant are edible and which aren’t. Also know how to prepare the parts.

5. Never forage in a polluted space.

6. Tread lightly. Only take enough .The rule of thumb: harvest 1/3, leave 1/3 for re-growth and 1/3 for other animals.

7. Make sure it’s legal. A mussel permit which you can obtain from your post office allows for shellfish and seaweed collections, but it is illegal to forage plants. Never forage in a Nature Conservation Are, or private properties.

8. Indigenous edible plants are ENDANGERED; this is why it’s so crucial to tread lightly and to grow them yourself whenever possible.

9. Never forage shellfish during red-tide.

10. For seaweeds (kelp, sea lettuce, wrack), never gather loose floating pieces, always cut from ones fresh and attached to the rocks as close to the tide line as possible.

Roushanna’s top wild edibles:

1. Kelp (sea bamboo, Ecklonia maxima)

2. Num num (Carissa bispinosa)

3. Pine ring mushrooms (Lactarius deliciosus)

4. Veldkool (Trachyandra ciliata)

5. Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea )

6. Pelargoniums (from the Geraniaceae family)

7. Nettles (from the Urticaceae family)

8. Sea lettuce (ulva & monostroma species)

9. Ice plant (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis)

10. Kei-apples (Dovyalis caffra)

11. Cape Chestnuts (Calodendrum capense )

12. Mussels (there are two edible mussels – Black mussel (Choromytilus meridionalis) and the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis). Always eat the Mediterranean mussel first – it’s an alien!

©Roelien Steenkamp, 2015

Red ribbon seaweed

For one of the desserts at our Coastal Foraging, I make an agar agar jelly treat. To do this you have to collect the red ribbon seaweed that grows on kelp fronds and boil it to extract the agar agar.

Coastal foragingAgar agar kiwi jelly and candied kelp on ice cream.

The romantic version of collecting the seaweed is on a beautiful summers day..blue skies and turquoise sea. A surfboard, a smile and a skip down the beach.

The reality is usually more like a sand-blasted walk down the beach through a howling south-easter, slipping on the porphyra strewn rocks to get to the water’s edge at low tide, holding on with your toes and getting soaked by waves trying to reach the kelp.

If you try and have a surf you could easily get smacked if the face with your board like I did today. Who needs botox right? Dear wind, please hit my lip on the other side now. Angelina Jolie roll over – this is a Deep South extreme makeover.

And if you have missed low tide, you better start looking for a limpet with a lot of red seaweed growing on its shell.

Coastal foraginglike this but more.

Today we got the romantic version….

Coastal foragingA surfboard, a smile and a skip down the beach

Coastal foragingOk and maybe one quick little wave. Or five…

Coastal foragingCollecting the seaweed.

Coastal foragingFound a good bunch! Tough job hey. Gotta love these board meetings.

Coastal foragingWoohoo! Dreamy Summertime.

Coastal foragingLets go check out the haul…

Coastal foragingNeatly stashed away in wetsuit and top

Coastal foragingThe foraged goods. Nice.

A little bit of everything here – red, brown and green seaweed to eat.

Watch out for our next blog post to see what we made…

Happy holidays!

Seaweed

We are loving seaweed at the moment. Collecting it (sustainably of course) for our animals, gardens, food and for beauty treatments!

Coastal foraging

While it is fun and exhilarating to be foraging for your own free seaweed and mussels that are growing so prolifically at our beautiful beaches, it is important to remember a few rules. In all the excitement of foraging edible seaweed, it can be subject to over harvesting – especially in a focused area which could quickly be depleted:

  1. Always be sure the sea you are collecting from is not polluted and there is no red tide when collecting mussels.

  2. Collect at the low tide, closest to the tide line as possible.

  3. Never pull seaweed off a rock, rather cut pieces off with a pair of scissors leaving its “holdfast” attached to the rock so that the rest of the plant may regrow.

  4. Only cut 1/3 of the seaweed.

  5. Only pick seaweed for culinary use that is attached to a rock, don’t collect any you find floating or washed up on shore.

  6. Only pick seaweeds that look healthy and clean.

  7. Only pick what you need!

  8. Don t collect any unusual seaweed that is sparse in the rock pools, only what you see growing prolifically in the area.

  9. Watch your back! Never have your back turned to the waves as you collect, especially when collecting those elusive big mussels clinging to the rocks on the low tide line. On a stormy day, one wave can easily sweep you out to sea.

  10. Only collect what your permit allows.

  11. Respect all wild life when you forage. Take care where you walk.

  12. Sustainable harvesting ensures regrowth, conservation and abundance for animals, sea life and for yourselves for the next season.

For a great overview on seaweed written by Rob Anderson, please read here.

For info on the three different kinds of seaweeds – brown, red and green – please click on this:

3G Algae (Seaweed & Phytoplankton)

Sea lettuce

Visit this link on the Scenic South website for my Sea Biscuit recipe using Sea Lettuce or Ulva (shown above).

Kelp saladKELP AND AVO SALAD

Ingredients:

3 kelp blades, your choice of oil for frying, 1t tbs sesame seeds, 3 avocados, salt and pepper to taste, half a lemon.

Method:

Cut strips of kelp and quick fry in a hot pan until they turn green. Take them out and put them on paper towel to drain. Put them in a salad bowl and shake over the sesame seeds. Toss until coated. Chop up the avo and add to the bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Decorate with edible flowers. Great as a sandwich filler!

Enjoy! And if you have any tasty seaweed recipes, please do share with us!