Friday, September 17, 2010

Bullwhip Kelp: The Hula Dancer of the Deep (Part 2)

          Here’s a great recipe for Bullwhip Kelp Pickles. You use the stem or stipe. But please be kind to the kelp forests. In Washington you must not cut living kelp stipes, rather use the ones washed up on the beach. Look for solid, dark brown to golden stipes with no white mushy spots. Also, be sure you purchase a SEAWEED AND SHELLFISH HARVEST LICENSE IN WASHINGTON before you pick.

Horn Tootin' Kelp Pickles
Excerpted from PACIFIC FEAST (Skipstone Press, Seattle)
Copyright 2010, Jennifer Hahn, Bellingham, WA

IMPORTANT KELP HARVESTING NOTE: In Washington state you need to buy an annual Shellfish & Seaweed Harvest License to harvest kelp. It is illegal to cut bullwhip kelp stipes (stalks) in WA state because it kills this important species outright. You CAN cut leaves…24 inches from the bulb or more. Look for bullwhip kelp stipes washed up on a beach or floating. Harvest only from clean environments. When kelp is found floating or as flotsam, you don’t know the source. In polluted areas, kelp is a magnet for heavy metals…so it is better to find “floaters/beached kelp” on an open Strait or the open coast. Don’t harvest near towns/industrial sites/bays with moored boats, etc. A fresh stipe is firm like a rubber garden hose and uniformly brown--with no mushy spots from sun or rain exposure.

Imagine O-shaped amber pickles with a honey sweetness and lively tang reminiscent of chutney--like the bread and butter pickles Great Aunt Grace made. Now imagine making them from a bull whip kelp horn. After fall and winter storms you can often find tangles of kelp beached in drifts. Cut off the tip-top of the bulb (where blades attach) so it is funnel- or bell-shaped.  Cut the tapered end off so the opening is a half inch across. Pucker your lips and blow….  When you’re done playing, cut into pickles!  

Yield:  2 quarts, depending on your pickle packing.

3 cups white vinegar

2 garlic cloves diced

3 tablespoons pickling spice

4 teaspoons turmeric

3 cup sugar

1 red onion (cut in crescents)

6 cups kelp sliced into 1/8 wide “O-rings”

Preparing kelp:
For 6 cups of “O-rings” you’ll need about a 3-foot section of bull kelp stipe that is ½-inch across at the opening. (Any size hole is fine though. And the bulb can be sliced into crescents and pickled, too.)  

Cut Bull Whip Kelp stipe into three 1-foot sections.  Remove skin with a potato peeler. If it’s young, and not too tough, leave skin in place.

Cut stipe ("stipe" is the correct name for the sea algae's stalk) into 1/8 inch wide O-rings and place 6 cups of kelp O-rings into a large cook pot. Simmer all ingredients for 45 min. Serve warm or chilled.

Cutting the stipe

PICKLE CANNING NOTE: If you plan to preserve pickles by canning, cut
the kelp stipe o-rings wider--1/4 inch thick, so they hold up over time. Soak in a large pot in brine for 2 hours, stirring several times. Heat and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

Place pickles, onions, spices and juice in sterilized jars and steam seal.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer, Ryan Drum taught me how to make these kelp pickles. Fun! Thanks for this recipe.