Splash from the sea

SOMETIMES I wake up early enough in the morning to catch Farming Today on BBC Radio 4.

It’s always interesting and keeps me in touch with the farming scene across the water.

Recently, I heard an interesting interview with Andy Inglis from Dunbar, Scotland, who had decided to sell Hebridean seawater as a commercial venture (Acquamara Seawater — www.acquamara.com).

Remember when we first heard that some “prime boy” was actually bottling water and selling it. Maybe you didn’t think it was a daft idea but I certainly did. No doubt many will be jut as sceptical about this, and perhaps they are right, but if you are fortunate enough to be close to the sea where water is clean and relatively unpolluted, make use of this wonderful resource and the seaweed on the strand.

Years ago, coastal communities fought pitch battles over seaweed. They knew the value of algae as a fertiliser.

Nowadays, scarcely anyone bothers to collect, so if you are one of the new urban farmers or if you’ve been bitten by the vegetable gardening bug, next time you go for a walk on the beach take along a string bag and fill it with seaweed.

Our grandfathers knew well the extra blás it gave a crop of potatoes. We did a trial this year and then compared the flavour and they were totally right.

But you can’t imagine how much more delicious many foods are when cooked in seawater — it’s not just about the salt, it’s also about all those extra mineral flavours and traces of iodine.

Try cooking new potatoes in seawater, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavour.

Shrimps, prawns, lobster, crabs are all immeasurably better cooked in seawater, even a few fresh mackerel turn into a feast when poached in a marine bath. Green vegetables, pasta, broccoli, French or runner beans, even the flavour of carrots is greatly enhanced.

In the same radio piece, the interviewer asked a local chef for his opinion. The chef dismissed the suggestion as ridiculous — seawater was in his opinion exactly the same as well salted water — well try and see what you think.

Check out www.myguideireland.com/irelands-blue-flag-beaches to find the location of Blue Flag beaches around our coast.


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