Foraging & Eating Seaweed ~ Australian Golden Kelp

Australian Algae Abundance

For us Australians, right on our doorstep floats an incredibly nutritious and regenerative aquatic plant: Seaweed.

The good news is, nearly all of the vast diverse algae available from the salty waters of Australia are not only edible but also delicious and highly nutritious.

As it rolls up in waves and hits us while we swim, or takes up residence on our sandy beaches, we treat it like a nuisance. We get scared or repulsed by it. Local councils bulldoze the plant away. By harvesting from your local beach you are effectively diverting organic matter from the tip that either-wise councils would be dumping.

We need to flow a little more love and value to this non-flowering algae that lacks true roots, leaves and vascular tissue.

Seaweeds are a very sustainable source of food - they don't need any dirt nor freshwater to grow. By introducing seaweeds in your diet, you are contributing towards more sustainable ways to consume food.

This post hopefully inspires you to get more close, personal and tangible with your local seaweeds as you learn foraging, preparation and culinary methods.

Foraging Guidelines & Etiquette

As with any type of foraging, their are rules and etiquette to be mindful of:

  1. Know the area you are foraging from -  Forage from somewhere that’s relatively clean and non-toxic. Does the council or anyone spray pesticides/poison there? Do animals typically eliminate their waste products there? For seaweeds, this means avoiding ocean sewage/pollution outlets and coeans that aren't copping a lot of industrial pollutants.
  2.  Harvest sustainability - On the land, leave some to continue to grow and spread. Leave some for other humans and also the multiple creatures that use these organic substances as a home and food.
  3. Use a sharp knife - For plants, including some seaweeds, that attach strongly to their base. This ensures you don't damage the holdfast so they can re-grow.
  4. Check the Regulations - Where ever you go, they differ. Check out the legalities and ethics in Australia.

Identification

Golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata) is a large brown to golden-brown seaweed up to 1.5 meters long.

The stem (stipe) is rounded and at the base has a holdfast that looks like the rooting part of a tree. This is not technically a root, but and anchoring device for the seaweed to hold steady underwater. You will get to know it very quickly after picking it up on the beach.

Harvesting

Golden kelp can be found all around Australia (see map below).

You will find it in big piles after big seas, mixed up with debris and other seaweeds on the beach.

Timing of Harvest

Just after high tide or after a storm where the sea leaves behind the fresh kelp.
Harvesting is in spring and autumn is more abundant because that's when they grow the most, but you can effectively find golden kelp all year round.

Please note it is best to collect seaweeds when they have naturally dislodged from their place on the seafloor. This is to ensure the least amount of disturbance to the marine ecology. This marine ecology also has significance when the kelp is in big biles on the beach, so even in this case it should be collected in small amounts and from different places on the sand/rocks.

Do not to harvest seaweed from the sea, but rather wait until it floats free.

Drying

Rinse all the sand off in a bucket or sink of cold water.

You can then leave it to dry in the sun on the floor, but ideally suspended on a drying rack or clothes line.

Sun Drying

According to Ole G. Mouritsen in his book Seaweeds: edible, available + sustainable – the UV light helps the polyphenols break down into simple tannins, which makes them taste better and further promote the digestive properties of kelp.

In 2-3 days, our seaweed was crispy dry, and turned from golden-brown to dark green.

Chop

There are a few ways to chop the kelp that I know of:

  1. Dry and then chop - this is much harder on the finger muscles and you'll need strong scissors.
  2. Chop while wet, then dehydrate. This is really only possibly if you have a mesh-like drying rack so they don't fall through, or a dehydrator. Note, you may need to use a dehydrator if the weather is very cold and moist.
  3. Marinate - This is a different way other than drying.
    1. Blanch into a large pot of boiling water for 10-30 seconds, it will turn bright green.
    2. Separate the stem from the fronds (like leaves).
    3. Cut stem into long thin strips like noodles, the stem is firmer than the fronds and should be cooked more.
    4. Cut the fronds into small squares, these parts are softer and go well on soups or stir-fries.

Preserve in a Jar Ready for Use

After chopping up a bit, add into a strong blender and blend into small granules.
It can be kept also in bigger pieces, but I like them as close to powder so I can easily add it into any dish.

Keep in a jar, ready for use.

I add these into any cooking pot (I add towards to end to only cook for a short while). I recommend cooking for a little bit, even just blanching will soften it.

Ayurvedic View on Kelp

Ayurvedic Properties of Golden Kelp

Rasa (Taste): Lavana (Salty) and Tikta (Bitter) (sometimes)

Virya (Potency): Usna (heating)

Doshas: V- PK+

  1. Vata: Seaweeds can be drying (ruksa guna), so better hydrate it (soak in water) or add to cooking with some water to pacify Vata. 
  2. Pitta: The usna virya (heating potency) of salt aggravates Pitta.
  3. Kapha: The liquid quality (dravam guna) that is immediately produced by lavana rasa and the slimy (picheela guna) in seaweed (which helps thicken up a soup) can increase kapha

Grounds the Nervous System

Sinking and heavy = grounding for nervous system. “Salt of the earth.”

The quality of moistness pacifies the vata and nourishes the nervous system.

More Medicinal Qualties

  • Deepana - Enkindles and strengthens the Agni (digestive fire)
  • Pachana - Digests the Ama
  • Chedana - expulsion of the doshas
  • Bhedana (breaking)
  • Vikasi Sroto Sodhaka - (suksma) - Antispasmodic. Loosens the joints. These herbs destroy the tone of the joints by loosening the ligaments. - Can be medicinal or damaging, thus must be used the right way.
  • Sareera mardavakaraSoftening in the body, due to jala mahabhuta.
  • Samshodana - purificatory
  • Dhatu Saithilyakaracause looseness of the dhatu.

~ Karmas of Lavana Rasa that apply to Golden Kelp

  • It strengthens the immune system.
  • Stimulates kidney function.
  • It's tikta rasa can help reduce inflammation.

Seaweed has been shown to protect the body against radiation and environmental pollutants 

Very High in Minerals

Kelp contain minerals, trace elements, vitamins, and amino acids.

Basically no other group of plants contains more minerals and nutrients than seaweed. 

Kelp contains about 30 minerals. Kelp is packed with iodine, calcium, sulfur, silicon, phosphorus, iron, sodium, barium, boron, chromium, lithium, potassium, aluminum, strontium, bismuth, magnesium, copper, chloride, zinc, manganese, nickel, silver, vanadium, chlorine, cobalt, gallium, tin and zirconium. It contains vitamin C, E, D, K and B complex. Thus, it is a wise food for people who have mineral deficiencies.

Iodine found in kelp has been shown to boost metabolism and support the thyroid in cases of hypothyroidism.

The high amounts of calcium and magnesium found in seaweed promotes bone health and the magnesium helps the body to absorb calcium.

High in Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a pigment that absorbs sunlight (photosynthesis), transforms it along with minerals, water and carbon dioxide to produce food for the plant itself to grow. It also is what gives plants their green colour.

  • Helps increase the production of red blood cells.
  • According to a study, chlorophyll contains antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties that may benefit your health by fighting free radicals throughout your body.
  • Lower your risk of cancer — Helps in inducing apoptosis, according to a research published in Nutrition Research.
  • Manage arthritis — Evidence has shown anti-inflammatory properties to help with chronic inflammation.
  • Fight free radicals — According to the Journal of Food Science, dietary chlorophyll contains antioxidant and antimutagenic properties that may benefit your health by fighting free radicals throughout your body.12
  • Kill pathogenic yeast — Oral thrush, caused by the yeast strain Candida albicans, may be treated by consuming chlorophyll, according to a study.
  • Manage your weight — Studies indicated that the procedure was able to help suppress test subjects' hunger by intensifying signals of satiety.
  • Reduce body odor — It may help eliminate bad fishy odour by reducing the amount of thrimethylamines excreted by your body, a study showed. It even helped ease chronic constipation as a positive side effect.

Horticultural Uses

Seaweeds are excellent fertilisers- you can add straight into the compost or bury into the ground to distribute plenty of minerals to your soil.

Further Information and Resources

Foraging legend in Sydney Diego Bonetto talks about Golden Kelp

Milkwood did a great article about Seaweed in Australia

There are little enterprises like Sea Health Products, who have been collecting golden kelp in the waves at Narooma for decades, have a commercial drying facility in a valley and have based an entire business around this "weed." So when you find it fresh, take some of that goodness home with you.

References

The recommended resources for further learning above.

Do you have a seaweed you forage or a recipe? Comment below.

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The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vital Veda; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program. 

How To Harvest Wild Honey (Step-By-Step, Photo Guide)

My Guru spotted about 8 wild honey beehives nesting in various trees throughout the gated community where the Ayurvedic clinic is.

She called in experts for the medicinal harvest and it went a little something like this…

Learn about the health benefits of Honey and Ayurvedic perspective in this article: Honey: Nectar or Poison

Step 1: Hire Professionals.

Step 2: Say a Prayer to The Tree, Then Climb Up - Carrying a bunch of dried leaves + match box.

Step 3: Smoke the Hive - Bees will flee. Men on the ground keep distance to avoid stings during the swarm.

Step 4: Yank Out The Queen Bee - Keep in cloth to later relocate back into forest.

Step 5: Send Honey Comb Down to the Ground Crew - This was done via buckets and rope.

Step 6: Strain Honey and Store well away from heat.

Notice how strong these fellas are. They climb trees!

Honey Gets Better With Age

Be sure to collect your unheated honey. Since honey gets better with age. It should be minimum 2 months old before we use it.


Turkey Tail: The Most Researched Mushroom Indigenous to Every Continent Except Antartica

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), is a common polypore mushroom found throughout the world, including the indigenous Australian bush where we came across it, near the east coast of New South Wales.

Immune System Booster

It is effectively empowers the immune system by significantly boosting killer T cells.

Thus, it is great to use as an adjunct therapy in cancer, not as a substitute, but in association with other treatments like radiation and chemotherapy (if you resort to this), and metabolic therapy + potent Ayurvedic herbal protocol.

It raises base immune function, and especially post-treatment when the body needs to recover.

Two polysaccharide complexes in Turkey Tail are getting a great deal of scientific attention, PSK (or "Kreskin") and PSP, for their cancer-blasting effects, making Turkey Tail the most extensively researched of all medicinal mushrooms with large scale clinical trials.

A seven-year, NIH-funded clinical study in 2011 found that Turkey Tail mycelium improves immune function when dosed daily to women with stage I–III breast cancer.

The immune response including an increase of cancer-fighting cells was dose-dependent, with no adverse effects.

A Common Conventional Treatment for Cancer in Japan

PSK is now approved in Japan to treat cancer, and is often prescribed and paid for by Japan’s national health care system for those undergoing chemotherapy. However, I recommend you take the whole herb, rather than an extract.

In addition to breast cancer, Turkey Tail has been found to hold promise for other cancers, including stomach, colorectal, lung, esophageal, nasopharyngeal, cervical, and uterine.

Helps Treat Infections

Turkey tail is also being used to treat many different infections, including aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, E. coli, HIV, Herpes, and streptococcus pneumonia, and is hepatoprotective. It may also be useful for chronic fatigue.

Turkey Tail Tea

  1. Wipe the dirt of the mushroom.
  2. Rip it up a bit to open the mushroom and it’s medicinal properties.
  3. Boil it in water on low heat for a long period of time and make a decoction.
  4. Sip and enjoy.

Here is a great video for the tea.

References:

Dr. Joespeh Mercola
Clinical Study in US


Mulberry Marvels: Tonify Blood & Energise The Soul | Uses & Benefits

If the smell and sight alone of these dark potent clusters of juice don’t activate your blood…

These blood tonic berries, known as Tūta in Ayurveda, protect the cardiovascular system and “cool down” the blood, helping in inflammatory conditions like skin diseases, burning sensation, burning urination, fever and excess pitta.

That is why nature divinely organises mulberries to fruit at the beginning of summer, to hydrate and cool us down.

Eat Fruit Alone

Although the sweet, heavy (guru) and moist quality provides stable balance for excess vata and pitta in the colon, this fruit is heavy to digest, so eat it alone.

Anthropologically, we would find a bush/tree, excitingly cheer at the sight of ripe fruits, feast on as many ripe fruits as we could, and then continue our journey. No fruit salads or mixed smoothies, just one single fruit. Hopefully in abundance.

Unripe Berries, Bark & Leaves as Medicine

The sour unripe fruit is also used in Ayurvedic medicine as a laxative, however beware because it has a heating action (usna virya) which aggravates the blood and pitta and is further harder to digest.

Stick to the dark coloured ripe berries for those harvesting the common red (Morus rubra and black (morus nigra) mulberry).

In addition, the bark and leaves of this abundant tree are prepared into decoctions or pastes to help treat diseases of the throat. 

The Medicine and Joy of Foraging

Overall, just finding a tree and harvesting mulberries is incredibly energising for the body and soul. 

Then reward yourself by eating the berries or drinking the juice and be imbued with tonic energy, especially helpful for those debilitated, fatigued, breast-feeding and exhausted post-childbirth.

How To Forage Mulberries

  1. Find a tree, (they are quite common around residential areas).
  2. Sweep and place a clean sheet on the ground below (optional).
  3. Give the tree a gentle shake so the ripe berries fall onto the ground.
  4. Collect the berries.
  5. Get creative.

Ayurvedic Properties

Rasa: Madhura, Amla (depending on ripness)
Virya: Sheeta
Doshas: PV-

Synonyms: Tuta, tula, puga, kramuka, bhahmadaru

(Ripe berries).

Source; Bhavaprakasa, ch 6. Vatadi Varga (Group of trees like vata etc.).


Kakamachi (Solanum Nigrum / Black Nightshade) Uses + Jam Recipe

Botanical name: Solanum nigrum
Sanskrit name: Kakamachi
English name: Black nightshade.

Plant Description: This nightshade grows abundantly along the eastern fringe of Australia. It grows like a weed. It also grows in India, Americas and South Africa. It is native to Eurasia.

Pant Identification: The berries grow in clusters. If a plant has only single berries, it may be the poisonous Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), which rarely is found in Australia so don't worry

Parts Used

Berries - The berries are ripe thus safe to eat when they are dark purple/black colour. As with most nightshades, when the fruit is not ripe (in this case, green colour), it can be poisonous.

Leaves - According to Ayurveda, the leaves of Kakamachi is one of the best leafy green vegetables one can eat for health. Fry in ghee to purify

Whole plant - Root, ripe berries, seeds, leaves and stem are used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Health Benefit of Kakamachi

Skin Health - The whole plant is great for the skin(1) although it is slightly heating (usna virya). 

Liver Health - Whole plant is useful for the liver.

Lungs - Lung and respiratory health are one of Kakamachis main uses. The seeds are most useful for lung health.

Voice - Good for voice (singers eat those ripe tucker berries). Check out other methods to improve your voice.

Balances All 3 Doshas - Kakamachi alleviates all three doshas when vitiated(1) and is essential for kapha.

Aphrodisiac and Rejuvenator - The sweet taste (madhura rasa) supports this.(1)

Digestion - Causes easy movement of faeces and other waste products. 

Anti-Oxidant Rich - A group of phytochemicals known as anthocyanins are responsible for the dark blue colour as well as the flavonoids is what makes dark purple coloured fruits and berries high anti-oxidant thus prevent cell damage.

Caution: Only use fresh.

“[Kakamachi] when used fresh is a rejuvenator but used after some days it is poison.”
~ Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, (ch. 7, 243)

This means when you cook the leaves or berries, eat that fresh, don't keep it overtime and eat is later.

Kakamachi Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  1. 500g of fresh ripe kakamachi berries
  2. 400g of quality raw sugar
  3. 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Ideally, harvest your own kakamachi from a bush area that you know is organic and spray free.

Ensure the berries are fully ripe (dark purple/black colour). Don't harvest unripe (green or light purple colour) as that is poisonous.

It is rare to buy the berries commercially. Solanum nigrum is prohibited for trade as a food in Australiaby the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Plus it is more fun and rewarding when you input "more completely" in your creation process.

Method

  1. Remove the berries from the stems with your hands or isolate the berries while you forage them. Remove any bits of leaf and stalk.
  2. Gently wash the berries with fresh water. Careful because these berries are porous.
  3. Place the berries in a heavy-based pan and gently crush with a potato masher or squeeze with your hand, just enough to release some of the juices. Turn the pan on.
  4. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pan and leave to simmer on low heat. Allow for 5 minutes of bubbles. Keep stirring to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan.

4.  Cook down for around 20 minutes. Allow about 5 minutes of bubbles to come while simmering

5.  Put the jam into clean jars. The jam will keep in a cool dark place for 1 year. Once opened keep in the fridge.

References:

(1) Caraka Samhita, Sutra sthana, chapter 27.