July brings with it the boom of the seaweed harvest cycle for Ocean Harvest, as well as the finish of harvesting towards the end. At the end of this month, I will have spent 35+ days in the rocky intertidal seaweed beds at the lowest tides of the year.
These days of harvesting are compacted into 3, 4, 5 and even one 6 day cycle every two weeks. We have a very short window to harvest from April (if it is sunny and warm enough to dry), until the end of July or first part of August, as these times are not only the periods the ocean is accessible where the seaweed grows, but the seaweed is in its prime beauty and abundance.
Sea Lettuce grows here and there along the Mendocino coast, but I have not seen such abundance and brilliant green beauty in my 20+ years of harvesting until this past month when I harvested north of Fort Bragg.
I was out that morning to harvest kombu and bladderwrack, and what should appear to my wandering eyes? An entire small rocky cave lined with sea lettuce! This was a magical seaweed mermaid moment and I captured it on video for you.
Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca) is a green seaweed in the world of 3 marine algae color classifications (brown, green and red).
Green sea lettuce is higher in Vitamin A, Calcium and Magnesium than any of the other seaweeds. Sea lettuce is only 2 cell walls thick, making it a great carrier for the trace minerals found in the ocean water and which we need to replenish those same trace minerals in our bloodstreams.
This rare delicacy is found next to nori and other seaweeds near fresh water outlets. We harvest early in the season, to avoid finding lots of snails and sand eating away at the lettuce. We harvest no more than 20 wet pounds of sea lettuce per year, which makes up about 2-4 dry pounds to use and sell. We dry the sea lettuce on racks, tediously spreading each piece to dry completely with no pockets or shells hidden between pieces.
Ocean Harvest sells sea lettuce exclusively to the Harbor House Inn, located in Elk, California, for their sea lettuce sourdough and their butter infused with sea lettuce. We don’t retail sea lettuce on its own because of its scarcity and the effort it takes to find/harvest/dry, but you can find it in our “Flaked Mixed Sea Veggies” and our delicious “Sea Veggie Gomasio”.
Ocean Harvest is offering a FREE 1 ounce bag of sea lettuce with every pound of seaweed purchased or with eight smaller bags of seaweed that you buy in the months of JULY and AUGUST!
This way, you can try the Sea Lettuce Recipe below with your very own hand-harvested and sun-dried sea lettuce from Ocean Harvest!
Sea Lettuce Salad
- ½ to ¼ ounce of Ocean Harvest Sea Lettuce
- 1 TBSP Rice Vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
- 1 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 TBSP toasted Sesame Seeds
- Rehydrate sea lettuce in as little water as possible. You don’t want to lose the precious trace minerals in the rehydration process. Squeeze water from sea lettuce, and either use your soaking water in a broth, a tea or pour over houseplants or compost. “It’s all good!”
- Mix your rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil together and pour over your rehydrated sea lettuce. Stir well.
- Add toasted sesame seeds to your salad.
- Let sit in the refrigerator to marinade, at least 1 hour.
- Remove from refrigerator and serve! Your salad can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.