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Europe: Danish university staff make local seaweed as alternative to imported ones used in Japanese cuisine

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The Danish Shellfish Centre at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has recently provided samples of edible seaweed grown in the Limfjord, Denmark.

Staff at the center is making headway in producing a Danish alternative to the imported sheets of seaweed used in the traditional Japanese cuisine.

At the beginning of March 2014, the first sheets of Danish sugar kelp were introduced by Ann Kruse and Ditte Tørring, chef and project manager, respectively, at the center located in Nykøbing on the island of Mors in the north-western part of Jutland.

Seaweed produced in Denmark could become a future alternative to the large number of seaweed sheets currently imported mainly from China.

The team said restaurants could also start adding Danish seaweed to their menu in the form of fresh seaweed salads or sprinkling on rice paper rolls.

Local virtues project

The production of seaweed forms part of the Local Virtues project initiated by the center in 2010 with the support of the Business Innovation Fund, the North Denmark Region, Morsø Municipality and the Association of the Mussel Industry.

The project was based on innovation and change in connection with sustainable utilization of the western part of the Limfjord, focusing mainly on shellfish and seaweed.

One of the aims of the project was to determine whether it is possible to grow seaweed, and whether there is a market for seaweed produced in Denmark in Danish food.

The project has established that it is possible to grow seaweed in Danish waters—also in the Limfjord—and that there is strong interest in seaweed produced in the country among both food producers and consumers.

“This fresh sugar kelp is very delicate and quite tasty,” said Tørring.

The Danish Shellfish Centre, DTU Aqua, has provided documentation that sugar kelp can be grown in Danish waters, including the Limfjord, where it is attached to lines one to 3 m beneath the surface.

The sheets of seaweed produced in Denmark for sushi could be a future alternative to the sheets imported from the Far East.

Seaweed as a supplement to mussels

The production of seaweed is particularly interesting in the Limfjord as it constitutes a supplement to current long-line mussel farming.

The peak season for long-line mussel farming is from May to September, after which the mussels are left undisturbed until the following spring.

Mussel farmers then focus on cultivating seaweed from September until the following spring.

“Seaweed and mussels are an excellent combination, which means that the current production could be made more cost-effective. That would be a great accomplishment,” said Tørring.

Story by Tine Kortenbach, Technical University of Denmark.