Tag Archives: seashore

oyster

Reconsider the Oyster!

The Food Programme on Radio 4 often has some fascinating food stories and interviews. There are over 400 episodes are available on iplayer and worth having a look through the archive.

This weeks programme which was all about oysters.. as a vegetarian allergic to all seafood I almost switched off.. but it was fascinating and I highly recommend having a listen. Summary of the programme is below and click on the picture to go to BBC iplayer. Enjoy!

Reconsider the Oyster!

oyster

Listen in pop-out player

Oysters are receiving renewed attention around the world, with new ideas for producing more, and eating more. Dan Saladino finds out what’s driving this oyster enthusiasm.

As Drew Smith, author of Oyster: A World History explains, “the oyster is older than us, they’re older than grass, they go back into pre-history and it’s quite mind boggling how we’ve forgotten we really survive on this planet because of oysters”.

From discoveries of middens (piles of oyster shells left by our ancesters) through to tales of the Victorian Britain’s enoromous appetite for the oyster, Dan hears the evidence of why we used to have a much more intimate relationship with the bivalve.

Overfishing, disease and parasites turned something that was abundant into a rarity a century ago, but now people around the world are making an effort to bring the oyster back into mainstream.

In Denmark, where there still is an abundance of oysters in their waters, a national park along the Wadden Sea, on the north west coast of Denmark has started to encourage people to wade in the water and gather as many oysters as they can carry and eat. It’s hoped the experience will help people understand the oyster more and also fight to protect the environment it lives in.

Meanwhile on the British Isles the oyster is seeing interest from brewers and shellfish farmers alike, all convinced we need to reconsider how delicious and import the animal has been in our food culture.

In New York, the most ambitious oyster mission of all is underway, the “billion oyster project”, an effort to return the oyster to New York City’s harbour, once a breeding ground for trillions of oysters.

Listen to the programme and hear why these efforts are underway, and why a gold speckled jar of marmite could be the oysters’ best friend.

Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.

 

john wright

Shellfish foraging and razor clams

I have talked about sea kale and sea beet in a previous blog and although I don’t eat shellfish of any kind there is much more than leaves and seaweed to be found on the seashore.

Scallops, mussels, limpets, clams, oysters and more can be found around the British coast. There are certain date restrictions on when you can pick and you also need think about where you find them. Shellfish like the warm waters round sewage outflow pipes but eating those could make you very ill!  If you are interested in shellfish picking then get a good book or do a course so you can confidently identify shellfish, know how to wash them out and cook them properly.

A few people around the country organise seashore and shellfish foraging trips including Taste the Wild on the North Yorkshire coast at Staithes and South Lakes near Morecambe, Robin Harford of Eat Weeds does seashore courses in Kent, in Pembrokeshire Don and Ed run Seashore Forage and Feast days

This is a short video with John Wright talking about how to ‘hunt’ razor clams. A very simple technique 🙂

 

If you live near the coast and/or want to learn more about shellfish and seashore foraging then Edible Seashore is an essential book from John Wright. Click on the image below and it will take you to the book on Amazon – however, I quite understand many people have issues with Amazon and prefer to shop elsewhere. If so, have a look at Alibris UK which is like Amazon but nicer and full of independent booksellers.

sea kale leaf and flowers

Seashore foraging – sea beet and kale

We live in the Yorkshire Dales which  is a really long way from the sea so its great to do a bit of seashore foraging every now and then.  As with all wild food, consider where you find seashore plants.. chemical plants and nuclear power stations are often found on the coast.. so think before you pick!

Thanks to Angie Pedley for the photos – these were taken on Walney Island in Cumbria.

There are many easily identifiable goodies to be found along the seashore and the most common and recognisable is sea beet. The latin name is Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima sea beet looks like and tastes like spinach but is a bit firmer and waxier. Use it in any recipe where you might use spinach. It can be foraged most of the year and we have found some good specimens at the end of November on Anglesey.  The flavour is not so good after it has flowered.

sea beetSea Beet on Walney Island, Cumbria

Sea kale is a fairly common seashore plant and the leaves, roots, stalks and flowers are all edible either raw or cooked. It is a member of the cabbage family and high in vitamin C – the botanic name is Crambe maritima. The stems can be quite thick and I prefer to strip the leaves from the stems, chop the stems up and cook them a bit longer than the leaves. Young leaves are tender and fine eaten raw in salads. If you pick the flowers just before they open they can be cooked and eaten like broccoli.

sea kaleSea kale

sea kale leaf and flowersClose up of sea kale leaf and flowers

If you live near the coast and/or want to learn more about seashore foraging then Edible Seashore is an essential book from John Wright. Click on the image below and it will take you to the book on Amazon – however, I quite understand many people have issues with Amazon and prefer to shop elsewhere. If so, have a look at Alibris UK which is like Amazon but nicer and full of independent booksellers.