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Algae A to Z: 26 Things to Know about Algae

Algae A to Z: 26 Things to Know about Algae

Everything you need to know about algae in and outside the kitchen, discover the varieties and facst of algae around the world

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It is a seaweed-based substance similar to gelatin. Very popular for dessert preparations, it is also used to make various types of savory dishes, including some kind of non-dairy cheese. Alginate and Carrageenan are two more types of gelatinous substances extracted from seaweeds.

Dulce - ‘sweet’ - is a popular national beverage of the Central-American country, made of edible seaweeds mixed with milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla.

Seaweed cotton, a very soft and fine spun, can be used to create sustainable and healthy fashion collections. Alginate, a polysaccharide contained in brown algae, is also used for waterproofing and fireproofing fabrics.

It is common Japanese type of soup typically made of a simple clear broth obtained by nearly boiling water containing kombu and kezurikatsuo (tuna fish shavings), then straining the resultant liquid. It forms the base for miso soup and many kinds of simmering soups.

Algae can be used as an impressive source of clean energy. A 100% micro-algae based heat system has recently been built in a five floor building in Wilhelmsburg, near Hamburg in Germany.

Fucus serratus (or toothed wrack), Fucus visciculosus (or bladderwrack) and Fucus spiralis (or spiral wrack) are non-edible seaweeds – the largest and most complex marine forms of algae – used by the cosmetic and beauty industry and herbal medicine.

It is the Korean word for edible seaweed in the genus Porphyra. In Welsh this food is called laver and in Japanese, nori. Seaweeds are very popular in Korean cuisine; gim has been used for millennia in food preparations.

Also known as hiziki, it is a brown seaweed which has been part of the Japanese diet for centuries. It is rich in fiber and essential minerals. Normally dried, it is soaked in water then cooked with ingredients like soy sauce and sugar and eaten with other foods such as vegetables or fish.

Many seaweeds are an excellent source of iodine, an essential dietary mineral necessary for the thyroid function and hormones, controlling the body's temperature, cell production, nerve and muscle function, metabolism, protein synthesis and the health of hair, teeth and skin. Low intake can cause many problems including lethargy, depression, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin and in more extreme cases a goitre (enlarged thyroid gland).

Seaweeds have a very important role in the Japanese diet. As a result of the nature of the sea surrounding the Japanese archipelago, there is a wide variety of seaweed available, as seaweed (other than nori) flourishes in water where there are rapidly flowing currents.

The name refers to various Pacific species of kelp – a large brown algae. It is a very important ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. It is used to flavor broths and stews (especially dashi), as a savory garnish, as a vegetable, and a primary ingredient in popular snacks.

London designer Julia Lohmann – whose work features in New York MOMA collections - is promoting algae in fashion and furniture, considering them as a renewable and sustainable resource and the future replacement of leather, paper and plastic.

Seaweeds are often associated with macrobiotic diet, as they are considered a ‘super food’ in the macrobiotic perspective, due to their nutrient dense nature.

The black wrappers used in Makizushi, ‘rolled sushi’ (or Norimaki, ‘Nori roll’ or Makimono ‘variety of rolls’) are made of nori. Originally, it was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin, edible sheets, and dried in the sun. It is traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan; today the commercial product is farmed, processed, toasted, packaged, and sold in sheets.

Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae is a NASA-created innovative way to cultivate algae, catch carbon dioxide and finally produce biofuels without using arable land or taking water away from agriculture or use fertilizers.

Shiro Alga Carta is a paper made out of Venice Laguna seaweeds.

Qatar University
At the end of last year, Qater University has revealed important pieces of research into the development of sustainable biofuels, using microalgae unique to Qatar. The project, in collaboration with Qater Airways, aims to help transforming the international aviation industry into a more climate-friendly one.

Red Dulce
Or Palmaria Palmata, is a popular seaweed in Ireland, Atlantic Canada and Iceland, where it is still gathered by coast inhabitants. Fresh dulse can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as a snack or is ground to flakes or a powder.

It is a kind of microalgae cultivated worldwide for its proprieties as a dietary supplement. Dried Spirulina contains about 60% of protein; it is an extraordinary complete protein containing all essential amino acids. It also prevents damage caused by toxins affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, neurons, eyes, ovaries, DNA, and testicles.

It is Japanese intensely-favored preserved food typically made with kombu or wakame (it can be made with a small seafood or meat as well) that has been simmered in soy sauce and mirin (a popular condiment similar to sweet sake).

Upper Klamath lake
It is a pretty pristine lake in Oregon, USA, where Aphanizomenon flos aquae – blue-green microalgae – is harvested. Because of its volcanic nature, the lake bed –where the algae reproduce at a rate of four times more every 15 minutes – is incredibly rich in mineral elements, making these algae extraordinary in respect of their nutritional values.

Vegans do not eat eggs, fish or cheese which contain iodine: seaweeds are particularly appreciated by this diet’s followers, as their regular consumption easily satisfies the iodine requirements. 

It is a kind of edible seaweed with a subtly sweet flavor. It is most often served in soups and salads.

XXI International Seaweed Symposium
 It will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from April 21 until April 26, 2013. Every three years it is the core meeting for those involved in seaweed research and utilization. The 21st ISS has the theme “Seaweed Science for Sustainable Prosperity’.

Seaweeds are either harvested from the wild or farmed, with very generous yields. Seaweed farming has spread in all of southeast Asia, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, and the United States and productions are increasing at a very fast pace. At the beginning of 2011, Indonesia produced 3 million tons of seaweed and surpassed the Philippines as the world's largest seaweed producer. At the time, forecasted 2012 Indonesian production was 10 million tons.

They are traditional Italian seaweed fritters, prepared with Ulva lactuca, ‘sea lettuce’, bright green translucent seaweed which grows in the Mediterranean Sea.

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