Sea lettuce – (Ulva lactuca) – This bright green seaweed grows in thin sheets in the mid-intertidal zone, so it’s easy to pick at low tide. A very clean tasting seaweed, not fishy, great in seaweed salad or add to ramen, congee or risotto for a colourful note of the sea. Great firm texture. Can be eaten raw, dried or roasted.
Habitat: Sea lettuce likes growing in relatively sheltered areas with good sunlight on rocks. Likes estuaries.
Growth cycle: Grows rapidly in spring and dies off in late summer
Seaweed harvesting Do’s and Don’ts:
Do: Make sure the water quality is top notch, don’t harvest seaweed near cities or boats as they can dump their refuse right in the water. Go out to the Gulf Islands, the further away from humans the better.
Do: Pick seaweed when the water is cold and clear, as the summer comes on the water gets murky and the flavour of the seaweed can suffer. It’s still okay to pick it in summer, but it tastes better in cold months.
Do: Harvest only from living plants that are still rooted to the sea floor, wait till low tide if you don’t have a boat so that you can hand harvest.
Don’t: Over harvest. Seaweed is home to a lot of other creatures that rely on it for food or for breeding grounds, make sure you’re not taking more than your share and don’t uproot the seaweed, just pick a few blades from each plant. As with any food, consuming in small doses is best.
An amazing app for our area is Seaweed Sorter that can help you ID seaweeds that are new to you.
And lastly, an instructional video on how to harvest sea lettuce… Enjoy! – Chef Robin