How To Harvest Seaweed on the Oregon Coast

Harvesting seaweed from your local coast line should not be scary. If the thought of it grosses you out, you are not alone in that thought. However, if you are someone willing to brave the unknown and give seaweed harvesting in Oregon a shot, you’re guaranteed to be rewarded with nature’s most nutritionally dense food sources.

Why Even Harvest Seaweed?

Friends, listen up. The current trajectory of the market in 2021 is that food should be convenient with disregard to nutrition. We have to stop this train, hijack the conductor and start going down different tracks. Harvesting seaweed or even buying natural seaweed and introducing it to our diet can have drastic health benefits including maintaining a healthy body and restoring an unhealthy one.

The sea plant is not a normal vegetable, it includes every trace element that our body needs to thrive and some nutrients that can only be found in seaweed. The plant is the source of omega-3 for fish, fish don’t produce it naturally. It contains naturally occurring vitamins, and there is a difference between Flintstone vitamins and plant vitamins!

Enjoy life friends, thanks for reading!

When can you harvest seaweed?

You can pretty much get away with harvesting seaweed all year long on the Oregon coast, but the official rules state that individuals are only allowed to harvest living seaweed from March 1st through June 15th each year. (Oregon Administrative Rules)

That being said, walking along the coast and collecting unsubmerged seaweed is what I do.

It’s also worth mentioning that there is a yearly limit of 2,000 lbs. of seaweed per year, but most people will never even get close to this number. (Source)

When is the best time of day to harvest seaweed? 

Easily, the best time to hit the coast line for your seaweed adventures is during low tide.  This way you have easy access to the healthy and beautifully shaped seaweed, fresh from the salty water. 

How to Safely Harvest the Seaweed Plant

I personally have wandered the Oregon coast on several occasions and explored the different species that grow in massive groves right off the shores. 

You’ll see no short supply of seaweed as most shorelines supply enough vegetable to feed an entire city.  It’s truly unfortunate that western culture is so against the idea of eating seaweed because it makes such an impact to your health. 

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To harvest any type of seaweed safely, you simply need to extend the plant to it’s full length and trim the plant at no more than 75% of it’s length.  Be sure to leave the remaining 25% anchored to it’s source to enable the plant to continue healthy growing. 

What tools do you need?

  • A simple tidal chart – This handy little paper can be found at restaurants and shops on coastal towns, usually for free.
  • A sharp knife or tool to cut the plant. – I keep a combination of good sized scissors and a marine knife to access any location the plant may be in.
  • A net to bag your goods. – Something water can flow through.
  • Dress appropriately to get wet. – Yes, getting wet gets you the best seaweed and make the adventure more fun.

Forging wild edibles is an extremely rewarding venture and a great contribution to sustainability. We encourage you to use the tools you already have in your house instead of buying new. They will work just fine. 

Finding The Best Seaweed

We are happy to inform you that there are over 50+ different species of wild seaweed in Oregon and they can be found on any part of the coastline.  If you can get to the coast, you’ll be in the ideal spot to harvest. 

Please be safe as you venture the coast and look for areas of coastline that have both beach and rocky terrains as the rocks are where you’ll find the best seaweeds naturally anchored. 

The best types of seaweed to harvest in Oregon are: (in my opinion)

  • Wakame
  • Kombu
  • Green Laver
  • Bladderwrack
  • Nori
  • Dulce

This website already has an amazingly resourceful guide to all the different types of seaweed found in the Pacific Northwest. https://seaweedsofpnw.com

How To Prepare Your Seaweed For Eating

The easiest and most convenient way to prepare your seaweed for your dinner table is to dry it out.  It is not in the same ballpark as fresh seaweed, but fresh seaweed doesn’t fit into a westerner’s diet as easy as dried.  (Check out our store tab above for fresh seaweed options.)

Transporting your seaweed after you harvest depends on how far you are going.  If you are going straight home and you can get there within 6 hours just keep it in the bag.  If you’ve got a longer trek or you will be over night, I’d suggest getting your seaweed on ice so that it will not start to break down and get mucous induced.

different types of seaweeds on a butcher block

Drying the seaweed that you harvested is as simple as rinsing it, hanging it on a line or laying it out in the sun, flipping it on occasion.  You can’t go wrong here…unless you don’t rinse it.  Then you’ll probably get a lot more sea salt than you anticipated and maybe even some hitch-hiking creatures.

sprinkling seaweed on noodles

How to Cook with Seaweed

Once you dry the seaweed you can rehydrate it in soups or pasta by simply placing strips of the seaweed in as you cook even if you don’t end up eating the vegetable directly! Why? Because adding the seaweed will infuse the foods you cook with the mineral rich organics that get extracted by the hot water. It’s not as effective for your health but it’s better than nothing.

Crushing your dried seaweed is a great way to add the benefits. In the photo above you can see bowls of crushed seaweed that are perfect additions to meals such as pasta or even tacos. You can even get fairly cook crafty and add other seasonings to your crushed seaweed and make a delicious and nutritious specialty seasoning for meats and other foods.

Eat it like chips. The seaweed that you’ve harvested can be transformed into the healthiest snack on the planet, no contest. If you like eating chips, you’ll enjoy a well crafted dried seaweed chip when you hear the benefits of eating seaweed.

Get your kids started early on seaweed chips and you’ll set them up to think like a healthier person.

Conclusion

The sea plant is not a normal vegetable, it includes every trace element that our body needs to thrive and some nutrients that can only be found in seaweed.  The plant is the source of omega-3 for fish, fish don’t produce it naturally.  It contains naturally occurring vitamins, and there is a difference between Flintstone vitamins and plant vitamins!

Enjoy life friends, thanks for reading!

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