Dulse

Palmaria palmata

Herbs gallery - Dulse

Common names

  • Creathnach
  • Dillisk
  • Dilsk
  • Dulse
  • Red Dulse
  • Sea Lettuce Flakes

This is a sea plant having leathery or membranous, flattened reddish brown fronds that grow up to a length of anything between 50 mm and 300 mm. This herb, often used as a vegetable, emerges from a discoid or disc-shaped base, generally having a petite stipe (fern-like stalk) that keeps growing slowly to develop into a simple or branches in two parts (dichotomous) or palm-shaped (palmately) fronds. Quite often, these plants also have typical insignificant leaflets. The leaves or blades of this sea plant differ greatly in shape and they may generally be egg-shaped or barely straight segments.

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Dulse grows by attaching itself to its disc-shaped holdfast to rocks or the Laminaria stipes. In fact, the stipe of this plant is short, while its fronds are uneven and differ in color ranging from dark rose hues to reddish purple. The texture of the fronds is generally leathery or rubber-like. The plant's foliose blade is flat and it expands gradually and branches them into wide segments varying in size to about 50 cm in length and roughly between 3 cm and 8 cm in thickness and are able to put up with proliferations that are plane and wedge-shaped from their edges.

People in the north-eastern region of the United States, Atlantic Canada, Ireland and Iceland commonly use dulse in the form of food as well as for therapeutic purposes. In these places, dulse is available in several stores selling health foods as well as in fish markets. It is also possible to directly order dulse from the distributors in these neighbourhoods. In Northern Ireland's Ballycastle, dulse has been sold traditionally at the Ould Lammas Fair. In fact, this sea plant is especially well liked by people residing by the side of the Causeway Coast.

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There are numerous people who continue to collect dulse themselves for their personal use. However, this practice is rapidly dying. People who inhabit the Ulster coastline between Country Antrim and Country Donegal consume dried out and uncooked dulse in the same way as others would like to eat their snacks at any drinks party. In addition, dulse is also consumed after cooking. This sea plant has the same properties as any other substance that enhances flavour of foods. In the western coast of Ireland people generally call this sea plant dillisk. Usually, people selling periwinkle dry up dillisk or dulse and sell it in the form of a snack item from stalls located in towns by the sea.

You can directly eat the freshly gathered dulse from the rocks without drying them in the sun. Even dulse that has been dried in the sun can be consumed raw. Alternatively, it can be pounded into a powder form or flakes. In Iceland, people traditionally consume this sea plant along with butter. You may also fry this plant in a pan in the same manner as chips; bake them for a while in a microwave oven; cover them with cheese and bake them in an oven or just eat the sun-dried dulse with salsa. Dulse can also be eaten by including it in salads, sandwiches, chowders and soups. You may also add it to the dough for making pizza bread. Dulse can also be chopped finely and used in the form of a flavour enhancer in meat preparations, much like chili, or as a substitute for monosodium glutamate (MSG) to make the meat tender.

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Parts used

Fronds.

Uses

Dulse is extensively used in the form of a food. It is known by other names in France, Norway and Iceland and the sailors of these countries as well as those from Ireland and Scotland consume the dried, uncooked plants. In the western regions of Ireland, this plant is sold even in present times as Creathnach or Dillisk. Although dulse in not very palatable in its fresh state, it is among the few sea weeds that have a pleasing flavor as well as mouth-feel when it is dried cautiously and fast. This sea weed goes very well with stouts of dark ales (a local beer). In Germany, people have been successfully cultivating this plant in tanks, whereas in Ireland it is even grown on ropes!

This herb has a number of therapeutic uses. As it encloses iodine, it is said to be beneficial for people suffering from goiter. In fact, consuming this plant can even prevent goiter. Dulse is an excellent source of many phytochemicals required by our body to produce thyroid hormones that influence our weight as well as the pace of metabolism.

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Traditional herbal medicine in Europe used this herb to get rid of parasites from the body, alleviate constipation and also to treat scurvy. In addition, this herb can also be used as a mild substitute for senna or psyllium for treating constipation. Dulse also contains high levels of dietary fiber.

Dulse can be used in various forms - tea, tincture or decoction. However, if the preparation is rather strong it will taste somewhat fishy. In case the taste of the dulse tea or tincture is not pleasing to you, add some honey and cinnamon to make the flavor smooth.

You may also sprinkle some dried and powdered dulse on any salad to enhance its flavor. When you add dulse to any dish or salad, it actually adds a natural salty essence to the preparation. In addition, it contains several wonderful organic minerals that are required by our body and can also be digested easily. You may add this herb to sandwiches, chowders, soups or even the dough for making bread and pizza.

As mentioned earlier, the iodine content in dulse is quite high and it is among the most excellent natural varieties of bio molecular (produced by living organism) dietary iodine. In fact, consuming just one gram of this sea weed provides us with the amount of iodine that you will obtain by consuming approximately 40 pounds of freshly obtained from majority of the fruits and/ or vegetables grown on land. It is important to note that iodine forms the major element of the hormone made by our thyroid gland, which actually controls the metabolic processes. The hormone produced by our thyroid gland enhances basal metabolism and consumption of oxygen, increases the speed of cellular reactions, and has an effect on our growth as well as development, metabolism of energy, differentiation plus synthesis of protein.

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Dulse is also rich in B-vitamin content. Dulse supplies us with over 100 per cent of our vitamin B6 RDA (recommended daily use). There are other varieties of this sea plant that provide approximately 66 per cent of our vitamin B12 RDA.

This sea vegetable contains about 16 to 28 per cent protein. In addition, it usually contains a properly balanced amino acid composition, enclosing entire or nearly all the essential amino acids, especially those that our body is unable to produce by itself. Hence, this sea vegetable supplies us with additional as well as superior quality protein. However, the amount of protein provided by dulse per serving is comparatively less. For instance one serving of this sea vegetable provides roughly 1.5 grams of superior quality protein.

Majority of the sea plants, which are often used as vegetables, enclose a very important amino acid called glutamic acid, which forms the base for producing synthetic MSG or monosodium glutamate. By nature, this amino acid augments the flavours of foods containing elevated amounts of protein like beans, besides making them softer for consumption. In addition, glutamic acid also helps the body in digesting high protein foods more easily. Glutamic acid offers us several other health benefits, including supplying energy and improving the activities of our mental as well as nervous systems. It is also believed that glutamic acid helps to restrict alcoholism, yearning for sugar and schizophrenia.

Habitat and cultivation

Dulse is generally cultivated on mussels, rocks and also in the form of an epiphytic (plants growing on other plants) on many larger algae. This seaweed is found in intertidal (the period between low and high tide marks, especially close to low water) and also in shallow sub-tidal, particularly on the upper portion of stripes of a larger algae called Laminaria hyperborean. They are extensively distributed and found plentifully.

Dulse is found in complete divided varieties on mussels where the shores are exposed and, occasionally, in sub-tidal (up to 20 meters in extremely clear water). In Ireland, the plants that grow on exposed shores are called Creathnach and these are thought to be more appetizing compared to the rubbery seaweeds that are found growing in the lesser intertidal in shores that are partially exposed. In fact, the leathery plants are generally dried up and marketed in the form of Dilleasc or Dillisk. Eventually, these varieties of dulse may turn out to be a completely different entity. An extremely delicately dissected variety of dulse grows as an epiphytic on Fucus serratus, pebbles as well as rocks in some areas of partially exposed shores, which are sheltered and where an accumulation of fine sand and silt is found.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of dulse has shown that this seaweed contains several valuable minerals and vitamins essential for our health. Compared to other different vegetables, dulse encloses the entire trace elements required by the human body and its protein content is also very high.

Collection and harvesting

Dulse is a reddish seaweed that is collected in the cold waters down the coast of the Atlantic Ocean off Canada. In addition, it is also harvested in the coasts along Norway and Ireland. The fronds of dulse are grown in the tidal regions on larger seaweeds, shells as well as rocks.

This seaweed is generally found during the period between June and September and can be harvested manually in the absence of the tide. After harvesting dulse, you can clean them by getting rid of the shell pieces, small snails and other different small particles either by washing them or shaking those unwanted things. Subsequently, the seaweed is spread for drying. Alternatively, a number of harvesters may even turn them once immediately after collecting them to roll them, so that they can form them into large bales and package them afterwards. In some countries, people also use dulse in the form of fodder for their animals.

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Comments

From Beth - Aug-06-2017
I use dried dulse as a snack and a substitute for salt in soups or meat dishes. It contains a lot of iodine which helps the thyroid gland to work properly. This seaweed is also beneficial for our metabolism and helpful for losing some extra pounds. I tested it myself!
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