Growing and Harvesting Sea Vegetables
There are thousands of seaweed species around the world growing in different climates and environments. And different sea vegetables grow at different depths.
Like land vegetables, sea vegetables also have growing and harvesting seasons. Brown kelps grow best in the cold winter months! We harvest only seaweeds indigenous to the North Atlantic. Our harvesting season is from April-May thru September. Some seaweeds that are deeper can only be harvested monthly when the tides are really low or we dive for them.
Like land vegetable farmers, we only have a short period of time to collect what we need for the year, we have to harvest sustainably, and we have to store our sea vegetables properly.
Understanding seasonality and regeneration is critical. Seaweeds may be cut or torn from where they are growing which releases spores, ideally in a way that helps them to regenerate and which does not interfere with their natural life cycles.
VitaminSea only wild harvests seaweeds from the pristine, uncontaminated waters in the north Atlantic. The direction of the water currents is a strong indication of where contaminated waters will flow to and from. After more than 25 years of operating, we have a clear understanding of where the clean areas are and how to harvest sea vegetables sustainably.
We do not farm or harvest beach cast seaweed. For beach cast seaweed, we don't know what is tangled up in it or how long it has been rolling about in the ocean.
Globally the seaweed industry faces a challenge as there is a mismatch between seaweed demand versus availability of seaweeds increasingly used in new applications such as animal feeds, fertilizers, biofuel, packaging industries, beer, chocolate, and more!
More work needs to be done to understand how larger scale seaweed farms can be established to reduce pressure on natural reserves. Seaweeds grow relatively quickly, require no fertilization, don't need to be watered, and absorb enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.
The establishment of seaweed farms can reduce carbon footprints, create employment in regional areas and produce high quality products. The key is ensuring that this is done in an ethical, monitored and sustainable way. We are farmers of the ocean's bounty ~ aquatic farming may be in our future.
Storing and Using Sea Vegetables
Seaweeds are densely packed with nutrients and natural enzymes. When sun-dried properly after harvesting, their nutrients are kept intact and they have a really long shelf life (2-3 years) as long as are stored in a dry dark area, like a cupboard, away from direct sunlight. Some seaweeds are more sensitive to light than others (i.e.; Nori and Sea lettuce) so keep them in dark packaging if possible.
Each pack of VitaminSea Seaweed has a lot number and Best By date which is calculated based on when and where the seaweed was harvested.
When rehydrating sea vegetables, pay attention to recipe quantities. Seaweed expands significantly when rehydrated ~ a little goes a long way. Once rehydrated, it should be used fairly soon.
Some sea vegetables, depending on how and where they were dried, will have more white powder on them than others. This is not mold! It is actually precipitated salts that occur while drying. This white powder is in fact what gives the seaweed it's wonderful 'umami' flavor. Many refer to this white powder as the 'natural version of MSG'.
For more information about storing and using our naturally sun-dried sea vegetables, read our blog article, “Sun-dried Seaweed ~ Sell By / Best By / Use By”.