Many people know that kale is an incredibly healthy food loaded with protein. However, most people do not know that there is a superfood seaweed out there with twice the nutritional value of kale . . . and it tastes like bacon!
Dulse (Palmaria, sp.) is a seaweed that grows in the wild along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is harvested and usually sold for up to $90 per pound in its dried form as a nutritional supplement or cooking ingredient. Recently, however, researchers from Oregon State University have created and patented a new strain of the seaweed which looks like red translucent lettuce and is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, and contains up to 16% protein in dry weight.
The initial goal of OSU researchers was to create a highly nutritious and palatable food for abalone because high-quality abalone fetches high prices, especially in Asia. Researchers’ interests then turned to the possibility of growing dulse for human consumption.
Because dulse grows rapidly, has high nutritional value and can be used in dry or fresh form, the Oregon Department of Agriculture gave a grant to OSU researchers to explore dulse as a “specialty crop.” This variety of dulse has the potential to become a new industry for Oregon.
The researchers at OSU are working with the university’s Food Innovation Center and renowned chefs to creating products where dulse, in either its dry or fresh form, is the main ingredient. As fresh high-quality seaweed is generally hard for chefs to obtain, the theory is that researchers can provide the dulse and the chefs do the creative part.
Although there is currently no commercial operations growing dulse for human consumption in the United States, OSU researchers and chefs are confident the seaweed superfood has a great chance of success.