The kelp that grows in the sea off Lofoten is a fine ingredient and flavor enhancer that gives the meal an extra touch of sea, at the same time as you get important nutrients.

What kind of kelp can I eat?
Is it safe to eat kelp?
How does it taste?
Where can I find edible kelp?
How do I collect it?
Is kelp healthy?
How do I cook kelp?
Why should we eat kelp?

In the same way that we harvest berries and mushrooms in the forest, we can also use the kelp forest along our coast for use in the kitchen. Our ancestors and forefathers did this, but the art of using kelp as food has largely been forgotten.

What kind of kelp can I eat?
There are many species of kelp you can eat, but the ones that are best used for food are

Sugar kelp: Large brown algae that we harvest in Lofoten
Butare: Brown algae, we harvest along the coast also in Lofoten
Sea lettuce: Green algae, common along the entire coast.
Spills: Red algae, common along the entire coast.

In the spring is the best time to harvest the kelp, then there are new fresh leaves without growth of other species.

There are guides and apps that you can take with you on your mobile if you are unsure of what the different species look like. Here are a few examples:

Is it safe to eat kelp?
The vast majority of kelp species are harmless to eat, but not everything tastes good.

Some kelp species may contain a little too much iodine. A little iodine is very healthy, too much is not good.

Seaweed makes it possible to reduce the amount of salt in food, as it in itself provides a salty taste.

How does it taste?
It is the taste that is the most important thing about kelp, and the fact that it enhances other flavors. The different species of kelp taste a little different.

Rødalgen Søl has a strong taste reminiscent of bacon. The sea salad has a milder taste, while sugar kelp and butare give a salty taste, sea taste. And they have umami – the fifth flavor – which acts as a flavor enhancer for the other foods, their flavor comes out better when eaten with kelp.

But, what taste is ultimately depends on how it is treated. If the kelp is boiled, the amino acids that contribute to umami (glutamic acid and alanine) disappear. You will find more about cooking further down.

Is kelp healthy?
Seaweed contains important minerals, antioxidants, and also B and C vitamins. Some types of kelp also have proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber.

The kelp is especially rich in iodine, which is a nutrient we need, but which many people struggle to get enough of. However, one should not ingest too much iodine, so it may make sense not to ingest too large amounts.

The amount of iodine is significantly reduced by boiling in water, and already at 60 ° C high amounts of iodine are removed, without the amount of other nutrients being significantly reduced.

How do I cook kelp?
The most common is to dry the kelp before eating, but you also have other options:

Grill: Place the kelp on the grill, possibly around a piece of fish or other food. If you grill it alone, you get a crispy and good snack, which is much healthier than potato chips.

Boil: Boil it, drain, and use it as an ingredient in soups.

Drying: Hang it on a string under a roof. When it is crispy and good, you can eat it as a snack, or you can crush it and sprinkle it over the food as a spice, preferably in fish dishes and soups.

Lofoten