Seaweed Harvest Notes – Kelp Fronds 2019

Hanging Bull Kelp Smiling

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The Kelp Fronds harvest this summer was a great success! I spent three days harvesting with our son Arek and two other helpers who came along for the adventure.

The alarm clock rang at 4 o’clock every morning. We drank some big mugs of strong hot coffee, ate breakfast, put our wetsuits on, and drove down to the ocean.

By the time we put the kayaks in the water, it was sunrise, and we watched an old male otter laying on a rock eating a fish he had caught. These graceful animals are beautiful and we really enjoy hanging out with them.

Harvesting kelp fronds from ocean kayaks
James and Arek in the Bull Kelp patch

The waves weren’t very big, so paddling a half-mile out to the Bull Kelp beds was pretty easy. However, a strong, cold wind was blowing out of the north, and we had to tie our kayaks to Kelp stalks to keep from blowing away!

We work hard to stay warm, wrestling 20-30 pound bundles of Kelp Fronds into the kayaks, and tossing the kelp crabs back into the water.

The most difficult thing about harvesting Bull Kelp is keeping your breakfast inside your stomach… there is no surer recipe for seasickness than looking down into the water for hours while the waves toss you around like a cork! Only my toughest ocean-loving harvesters are willing to help harvest Bull Kelp…

Kelp seaweed bobbing in ocean
Floating Bull Kelp forest at low tide.

After a few hours of harvesting, the kayaks are filled with bags of Kelp Fronds, and we paddle back to shore. We finally get warm when we carry the 80-pound bags from the shoreline up to the parking lot and load them into the transport truck. After covering the bags in wet sheets to keep them cool, the Kelp Fronds are ready to go.

A friend drives the transport truck a couple of hours inland to our home, where Kari and the drying crew wait for the seaweed to arrive.

Even though Bull Kelp is wonderfully abundant and relatively easy to harvest, it is extremely labor-intensive to dry, trim, sort and package. Additionally, it takes about 12 pounds of fresh Kelp Fronds to dry down to 1 pound (most seaweeds have a 6-to-1 dry down ratio). But the flavor is worth all the effort!

We are happy to share some of these tasty Kelp Fronds with you.

James Jungwirth

Carrying Kelp - 2019 Harvest Notes
Bringing the bundles of dried Kelp Fronds back from the drying rack to storage. Many hands make light work!

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