edible plants

Edible seaweeds

Nori Seaweed (Laver): The Intriguing Health Benefits of the World’s Most Popular Seaweed

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Laver, or nori, is a kind of red algae and is probably the most widely-eaten seaweed in the world, primarily as the wrapping for sushi. Laver is also commonly served as flat crispy seaweed sheets that you can get at most grocery stores. Aside from having a delicious nutty flavor once dried, laver is packed with nutrients. Check out the long list of vitamins and minerals found in laver:

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•   Calcium

•   Choline

•   Copper

•   Folate

•   Iron

•   Magnesium

•   Manganese

•   Niacin

•   Omega-3 Fatty Acids

•   Omega-6 Fatty Acids

•   Pantothenic Acid

•   Phosphorus

•   Potassium

•   Riboflavin

•   Selenium

•   Sodium

•   Thiamin

•   Vitamin A

•   Vitamin B12

•   Vitamin B6

•   Vitamin C

•   Vitamin E

•   Vitamin K

•   Zinc

As you can see, laver is dense with daily essentials and unique health benefits. For one, it is rich in iodine, which supports thyroid health. Like so much seaweed, laver is renowned for its anti-cancer and anti-viral properties.

Laver has also been shown to improve gut health and is recommended for people suffering from certain types of digestive ailments. The list of laver’s health benefits goes on and on, so it’s not crazy to call it a superfood.

Now that you know laver’s health benefits, you might be interested in foraging for it yourself. That’s right, you can collect your own laver right on the coast of California! It likes to grow on rocks by the water, and when you find some, there should be plenty of it to harvest. Take a look at the picture below so you know w
hat to look for:

 

Proceed with caution when harvesting, as the rocks will be slippery. Make sure you

have somewhere safe to store the laver, such as a cooler. Once you get it back

home, there are several ways to prepare it. You can make something simple, like

seaweed chips, or you can get a bit more adventurous with some unique recipes.

 

Welsh Laverbread Recipe:

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•                       600g fresh laver seaweed

•                       3 tablespoons olive oil

•                       1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

•                       salt and pepper, to taste

•                       4 slices bread

•                       butter, to taste

Prep the seaweed by rinsing it off and then letting it simmer for 6 hours until it turns pulpy. Once this is done, simply mix in the seasoning, olive oil, and lemon juice, and give it a good stir. All that’s left to do is to toast the bread, add some butter, and spoon the laverbread on top. Serve immediately after making.

In Wales, this dish is known as bara lawr. It’s so popular there that you can actually buy canned laverbread. However, there’s nothing quite like cooking something that you foraged for yourself. Not only does this ensure you have the freshest ingredients, but there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes with eating something that you harvested in the wild. What better way to spend a day by the beautiful California coast than harvesting delicious and nutritious seaweed?

Ready to get out there and collect your own? Our Seaweed Adventures on the Sonoma coast are great for the beginner or veteran forager. Click below for dates and see you on the beach!



Edible seaweeds

The Unique Uses of Turkish Bath Towel Seaweed

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The health benefits of eating seaweed are widely known, but that’s not the only reason to get your hands on some. Have you ever heard of Turkish bath towel? This red seaweed is unique in both appearance and the ways to use it!

As you can see, Turkish towel has a bumpy texture. Actually, the seaweed’s reproductive organs cause these swellings to form on its surface. When placed in fresh water, they create a clear jelly, which is often used as a gelling agent for several different types of food.

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Turkish bath towel’s Latin name is chondracanthus exasperatus, but that’s a bit of a mouthful. It is widely known as the Turkish bath towel because when you touch the rough papillae surface, it feels very similar to a towel from a Turkish bath.

Interestingly, the blade thickness of Turkish bath towel is determined by its level of exposure. In more sheltered habitats, the blades are thinner, but in more natural and exposed areas, the blades are thicker and rougher to the touch. The gel within the blades is used as an ingredient in all types of things, including cosmetics.

Turkish bath towel can be found right off the coast of California, and its distinct look makes it pretty easy to find! Keep your eyes out for it next time you’re by the water. This seaweed likes to attach to rocks in the low intertidal area. It’s best grown in more exposed areas, as mentioned above. However, it is possible to be air-grown, so long as it is sprayed frequently with sea water.

Aside from being an ingredient for cosmetics and different gelling agents, Turkish bath towel has a few other unique uses. For one, as the name suggests, it can be used in baths as a natural exfoliating bath towel. It’s good for the skin, and the texture is perfect to scrub off any unwanted residue.

Turkish bath towel is commonly used for thalassotherapy, a form of therapy using seawater and sea products to refresh the skin’s pores by absorbing the potassium, calcium, sodium, iodine, and magnesium found in sea water.

Practitioners of thalassotherapy will tell you that Turkish bath towel is most effective for washing when it’s used within the sea that it comes from. That’s not to say that using it in a fresh water bath has no benefits, but harvesting some Turkish bath towel off the coast of California and giving yourself a relaxing wash in the ocean sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

Add that to the many reasons you should harvest your own seaweed! Although Turkish bath towel is not edible, it has so many unique uses. With many seaweeds available in the California area, foraging for seaweed gives you another reason to spend a day by the water!

Ready to get out there and collect your own? Our Seaweed Adventures on the Sonoma coast are great for the beginner or veteran forager. Click below for dates and see you on the beach!



Edible seaweeds

Bullwhip Kelp: The Seaweed You Can Pickle!

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When you think of foraging for edible native plants in California, seaweed probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, the truth is that California’s coast has several tasty and healthy types of seaweed that can be easily harvested. Bullwhip kelp, for example, is high in protein and dietary fiber and contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iodine, and more. You can usually find it washed up on the beach after a big storm. To tell if its fresh, pick it up and bend it, if it snaps, its good to eat, if not, keep looking. It can be harvested in both the spring and the summer.

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Bring a knife and plastic or mesh bag, so you can cut the choicest bits. Both the stipe (stalk), and blades (flowing fronds on the top), can be eaten. For the stipe you’ll want to peel off the outer layer, I find a regular veggie peeler does the trick.


That’s one of the great things about harvesting seaweed — once you find some, you find a lot. Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for seaweed on the surface of the water so you know where to begin harvesting.

It’s best to collect in areas that seem clean and do not have a lot of pollutants. Since bullwhip kelp forests are so dense, it’s easy to take far more than you can use. Plus, you’ll need to process the bullwhip kelp within the first day or two of harvest, so make sure you’re ready to prepare it right away to limit waste. When choosing which kelp to harvest, beware of any white spots, beaten up edges, or if the texture is not smooth to the touch. These attributes indicate that the kelp is too old for good eating.

 Bullwhip kelp is an interesting seaweed with bulbs, stipes (stems), and blades (leaves). Each part can be eaten. The bulbs and stipes, for example, can be pickled, while the blades can be dried into chips and added to soups and other meals.

Pickled Bullwhip Kelp Recipe:

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Kelp stipes

Kelp bulbs

Cayenne peppers

Garlic

Fresh dill

Pickling spices

2 quarts of apple cider vinegar

3 quarts of water

1/4 cup of pickling salt

1/4 alum or grape leaves

If the kelp looks like it should be rinsed off before you start, make sure you do it with sea water rather than fresh water if you can. but fresh is fine too.. First peel the outer layer off the stipe with your veggie peeler, and cut the bulbs and stipes into roughly ¼ inch pieces. Place the desired amount in a mason jar and add a clove of garlic, cayenne pepper, and a sprig of dill in there with it. 

Next, heat up the vinegar, water, alum/grape leaves, and pickling salt. Once it starts to boil, pour the brine into the mason jars. Sanitize the lid, and then put the cap on and wait for it to pickle!

Pickled kelp is both delicious and versatile. You can basically use it anytime you would use a pickle. Whether you put it in sandwiches, make your own relish, or eat it on its own, there are plenty of ways to enjoy pickled bullwhip kelp. Once you add this nutritious seaweed to your diet, you’ll likely make foraging on the coast a fun part of your spring and summer routine.

Ready to get out there and collect your own seaweed? We’ll take you up the coast to collect all the seaweed you can carry (10 lbs is the limit, which is A TON). Click below to see our current dates:



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Edible Plants

Outtakes from this weeks forageSF Wild Food Walk

We started this past weekend's wild food walk by tasting one of my favorite local plants, the 3 cornered leek (or wild onion lily.) Right now they are in flower, and the white clusters of flowers are not only beautiful, but they pack a nice oniony spice. The greens are also edible and are very mild in flavor. 

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We quickly moved onto to other seasonal delicacies. The nasturtiums we saw, which were looking super robust and healthy, had just revealed a couple of early flowers. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible, and have a nice cress-like spice.

From there we quickly saw oxalis (sour grass) also with a beautiful and tart edible flower. Miner's lettuce, although soon to be gone for season, was still looking succulent and delicious. Chickweed, growing right next to it, was still in its full green glory as well. We only moved about 10 feet before finding stinging nettle, mallow, yellow dock, black sage, and wild radish. We finally made it a little further before discussing the virtues of the only edible fruit we found, the black nightshade. None were quite ripe though. 

Many other plants were discussed, mostly edible. We barely traveled 200 feet before we realized there was enough there for an amazing salad, full of succulent mild greens, radish and nasturtium spice, onion flavor, flowers for visual appeal, and a tart component in the oxalis. This is why Spring is my favorite time of year!

Kevin Feinstein

Recipes

Eat your weeds! Nasturtium Pesto Recipe

People love to eat flowers. It’s a fact. I was talking to a vendor at a farmers market one time, and he told me that the $4 salad mixes he sold could sell for $8 if he put in a couple edible flowers. Nothing fancy, just nasturtiums or wild radish, things he found around the farm. There is something about eating something so beautiful that draws people in. Consuming beauty, rather than just observing it…maybe too deep, but maybe true. Anyway, no need to pay $8 for this recipe, just find a patch of nasturtiums.  The best part about this nasturtium pesto is that you actually use the leaves for the recipe, so you can save the flowers for garnish. Pick leaves that are small and deep green, these have the most intense flavor.

 

1 cup fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

A lot of people know that nasturtium flowers are edible; a surprise is that the leaves are too. They are amazingly plentiful, and make a great pesto with a mild nasturtium bite.  We made this with fresh gnocchi and wild radish flowers or our last meal, big hit:

1. Pulse the nasturtium leaves in a food processor with an ice cube until well blended (the ice cube helps keep the intense green color. This also works with basil pesto).

2. Add pine nuts and blend. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

3. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, with the food processor running. Stop periodically to scrape the sides.  Check for flavor every once in a while. Decide for yourself the consistency you want.   Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! Really delicious on Gnocchi or any fresh pasta. Enjoy!

 

The Rain has come! Mushroom season has begun!

Well this is exciting! After what seems like years without any rain, we finally got some water. Good all around. The farmers are happy. The gardens are happy. But most importantly for me, the mushrooms are happy. Rain means that all throughout the forests, as we speak, mushrooms are growing....probably not quite above the surface yet, that takes a few days...but they're there. Getting ready to poke their heads up through the pine needles and fallen leaves, just waiting to be discovered. I cant wait!

Join our mushroom expert Patrick Hamilton and find the secret spots where the mushrooms live. We have classes coming up all throughout the winter, from this weekend through December, on the Marin and Sonoma Coasts. See you out there!

Tickets and dates here

SF Underground Market

February 5th Underground Market Vendors

The market is at SomArts, at 934 Brannan St, in SF. Starts at 11am, ends at 11:00pm. DAY VENDORS:

Sasonao latin Cuisine  --  Tony Ulloa  --  Nicaraguan cuisine Fresh Bite Bakery  --  Cindy Tsai Schultz/Terry Betts  --  http://www.freshbitebaking.com/ --  baked goods Todd Masonis  --  bean-to-bar chocolate mo foods  --  Caterina Rindi/Jae Brim  --   www.mo-foods.com --  foraged/gleaned pickles & preserves Epicurean Solutions  --  Moira Tocatium  --  Veggie Deli Salads Starter Bakery  --  Brian M. Wood  --  www.starterbakery.com --  bakery Three Bowls  --  Indu Kline  --  Ambrosia - food of the gods James Saltzman's Smoked Bacon  --  James Saltzman  --  smoked bacon & brownies Rokas/Kelli Armonas  --  honey & mushrooms Beet Freaks  --  Sharon Salmon  --  pickles Earth Alchemy Chocolate  --  Susan Marjanovic  --  earthalchemychocolate.squarespace.com/ --  raw herbal chocolate Bread Project  --  Diedre Linburn  --  chocolate chip cookies The Chai Cart  --  Paawin  --  hot chai & chai packets Canvas Underground  --  Peter Jackson   www.canvasunderground.com --  meats & gumbo Raja Sen  --  dal and balsamic vinaigrette Quackery  --  Scott/Ramona  --  kombucha Ben Sawicki  --  flavored kale chips & veggie curry Josey Baker  --  bread Dehesa  --  Edward Lekwart  --  artisan sausages Tamales By Rudy  --  Rudy Santiago  --  burrito-sized tamales German Bread  --  Katrin Staugaard/Daniela Busse  --  traditional German bread & foraged plum jams Le Chaudron Magique  --  Isabelle Sin  --  seasonal jams Kirsten Roehler  --  seasoned goat cheese, seasoned salts & pickled lemons Yaella Frankel  --  chutneys, relishes & salsas Telegraph Hill Coffee Roasters  --  David Oliver  --   www.telegraphcoffeesf.com --  coffee

NIGHT VENDORS:

Flosa Creamery  --  Jordan Grosser  --  bacon-wrapped mochi CoCoTutti  --  Elyce Zahn  --  http://cocotutti.com/ --  caramels, chocolates Jilli  --  Will Schrom and Jacky Hayward--  www.jilli-icecream.com --  sarsaparilla and raw ice cream! Whole Beast Supper Club  --  Kevin Bunnell  --  pig products Lan Kulapaditharom  --  Tawainese: beef/chicken slider & shrimp wonton Lelajay's Ridiculously Good Gluten-FREE  --  Lila Akhzar  --  gluten-free brownie bites Aaron's Almost Better Than Sex Cake  --  Aaron Keller  --  chocolate oreo-toffee cake & beer dogs Sidesaddle Kitchen  --  Laura Miller  --  www.facebook.com/SidesaddleKitchen --  raw vegan pies Mama’s African Kitchen   --  Dupe Bello  --  traditional African curry dishes JazzyB's Recipez  --  Jasmine Ball  --  mac n’ cheese-veggie & w/pork belly A Humble Plate  --  Rathsamee Ly  --  Laotian Food Saucy Dumplings  --  Michael Lee  --  pork & vegetarian dumplings Hella Vegan Eats  --  Sylvester Chitica/James Raushenberg  --  www.hellaveganeats.com --  Vegan deliciousness Luscious Liquids  --  Kathy DeWitt/Tracee Raptis  --  elixirs and such Sajen Foods  --  Morisinah Katimin  --  Gado-gado & satay burger w/peanut sauce (Indonesian street food) Laksa Pho King  --  Stephen Backer  --  Vietnamese Pho & Malaysian Curry Laksa The Occasional Macaron Shop  --  Katie/George Wang  --  www.facebook.com/macaronshop --  macarons Angry Man Eats  --  Paul Midgen  --  chicken & waffles Tamale Nation  --  Alison Greenwood/Maria  --  tamales & empanadas Eric Eberman  --  veggie empanadas Bake It Banana  -- Courtney Dougherty  --  banana desserts

OUTDOOR NIGHT VENDORS: Kitchen Sidecar  --  Katie Kwan  --  www.kitchensidecar.com --  banh mi burger Pizza Hacker  --  Jeff Krupman  --  pizza The Grilled Cheese Guy  --  Michael Davidson  --  grilled cheese Sataysfied  --  Feldo Nartapura  --  www.sataysfied.com --  Indonesian satays Boffo Cart  --  Rhasaan Fernandez/Crystal Williams  -- hot sandwiches & paninis Panguita  --  Andre Joffroy  -- beer battered fish tacos & beef tostadas

thoughts

Out of Chicago and into hell

Hello. Chicago was good. Mainly because I had never really been there before. That sounds negative but isn't. I would have liked more time in Chicago, to really check it out. I spent most of my time foraging (more on that later) and at the taste of Chicago. The Taste is a festival put on for the last 30 years in Chicago that means to....Im not honestly sure what it means to do. It certainly doesn't mean to show the people of Chicago anything interesting about food. Think 40 vendors all selling the leftovers from the Des Moines county fair, and you get an idea of the culinary virtue that is The Taste.  Perhaps unfair ( I did have grilled turkey ribs that weren't too bad), but pretty apt. Its interesting to me that you would put on an event focused on food, and have so little diversity. Or maybe I've just become a food snob in these past years. Ok, onto the interesting stuff.... There were an amazing amount of new (to me) plants in Chicago's parks.  I grew up in VT, so many of the plants ( like milkweed, pictured here)

It was great to walk around with Sunny, that I saw in Chicago we had back home, but this time I saw them with new eyes.  I really only started foraging when I got to SF, so it was really enlightening to learn from Sunny who's knowledge of wild foods definitely surpasses my own (Sunny Savage has a TV show on the Veria network about wild food. She's the reason I was in Chicago, to help her forage and cook). Mine is very SF specific, so I was lost in this new environment.

Overall a good trip, Im in NYC now (where it is 96 degrees,hence the "hell" in the title), but will be back in SF on the 7th. We just posted some new wild food walks on foragesf.com, and look out for an email about some upcoming dinners we're doing mid July.

Also....we're starting the CSF back up! A friend of mine, Kevin Feinstein, who is going to be managing the workings of it in the months to come, so look out for an email about that too.

Well I'm off to meet Ava Chin, a NYC based forager, who writes a column for the NY times.

Also....Just got interviewed for a Times magazine article, so look out for that! Very Exciting. Ok, enough talk.

Uncategorized

forageSF and the Eat Real Fest

ForageSF is teaming up with the Eat Real festival to organize a series of guided forages, a wild food dinner with Radio Afrika to benefit La Cucina, as well as a foraging identification/canning exchange in Jack London square. There will be two sets of walks, one sometime in early August that will end in a dinner focused on wild foraged food.  Walk around the city learning what plants are edible, then get to eat a delicious meal made with those very same plants. The second set will be on Friday August 28th.  We’ll all go out, forage around for a couple hours, then meet in Jack London square to identify/exchange/can what we found.  I’ll also be giving a talk on forageSF, and wild food in general.  Should be a good time.  This is all still in planning, but check out http://eatrealfest.com/ in a couple weeks for more info.