Sugar Kelp is a variety of the kelp family from the Northern Hemisphere. It is deep-water sea vegetable from the Brown Seaweed Group, also called Sweet Kombu or Kombu Royale.
It grows on rocks in shallow subtidal zone as a single blade (leaf) with a wavy crinkly surface, giving it the appearance of a frilly tongue. The olive leaves can reach 2-4 meters in length and are thin and pliable.
Like other varieties of kelp, Sugar Kelp is a great source of natural Umami that will deepen the flavour of a dish. In addition, Sugar Kelp contains mannitol, a natural sugar that lends a slight sweetness to the seaweed. Both Umami & mannitol can be seen as a fine white powder on the dried leaves as they age. It is also a great ingredient for people wanting to maintain healthy iodine levels naturally.
Our Sugar Kelp is sustainably harvested by hand from the wild in Ireland, organically produced, dried naturally and often cut when the leaves are very large. It is also tested for contaminants.
Recipe brochure available soon
Uses for Sugar Kelp are similar to that of Kelp/Kombu, but the sweeter taste gives it a wider appeal in sweet dishes. It is a healthy addition to desserts: traditionally used in biscuits, cakes, tarts & cookies in parts of Europe. Very versatile, Sugar Kelp can be eaten raw, roasted, smoked, simmered, steramed & stir-fried. Soaked & reconstituted, it is delicious cut into salads. It makes a healthy snack when toasted into crisps or crumbled to use as a seasoning/garnish. Large pieces are wonderful to wrap vegetables, meat & fish cooked in a steamer or the oven. Also a great ingredient to pickle or ferment with sauerkraut.
Like Kombu, Sugar Kelp has also been used to make broth in Japan. Simmered on its own or added to any stock or simmering dish, it has a sweeter taste and is a great way to introduce seaweed in one's diet for people wanting to top up all their minerals and maintain healthy iodine levels naturally. The flavourful 'Umami' - translated from Japanese as 'deliciousness' - comes to the surface as a white powder as the dried seaweed matures; it is an amino acid that is an integral part of the plant. Umami is the fifth taste but does a lot more for the taste experience by balancing & intensifying all the flavours in a dish. That is why Chefs are so keen on it!
Generally, less salt is required in a dish using any type of Kelp, because the abundance of minerals released provide a 'salty' taste, with a lot less sodium & a better balance of other minerals we need.
Health & Nutrition
Because Sugar Kerlp is a variety of kelp, it has many of the same nutritional & therapeutic characteristics. Kelps are well known for their iodine levels - the highest of all sea vegetables - and as a great source of calcium & magnesium. Also an excellent source of 'hard to get' trace minerals, vitamins (especially Bs) and detoxifying fibre. Kelps contain special compounds that are said to have a positive effect on degenerative diseases: Algins, Fucoidan, Laminarin, lignans and many anti-oxidants.
Kelp a positive alternative to salt, still salty, with less sodium chloride and more of the other minerals we need. Hailed to be the best source of natural iodine in nature, it nourishes the thyroid and optimises the metabolism. Kelp/Kombu also contains exceptional pre-biotic fibre , essential to good digestion.
Sugar Kelp contains Mannitol - a natural sugar molecule with a very low glycemic index - which gives it a slight sweetness to the plant.
Label & Warnings
Being kelp, Sugar Kelp is very high in iodine.
In NZ the RDI is 150mcg. Consume in small quantities to stay within the RDI for iodine. There is controversy over how much iodine one should consume, seek the help of a qualified health professional for personalised advice.