Laverbread

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Laverbread and toast.

Laverbread (/ˈlvər-, ˈlɑːvər-/; Welsh: bara lafwr or bara lawr; Irish: sleabhac) is a food product made from laver, an edible seaweed (littoral alga) consumed mainly in Wales as part of local traditional cuisine. The seaweed is commonly found around the west coast of Great Britain, and the coasts of Ireland, where it is known as sleabhac.[1] It is smooth in texture and forms delicate, sheetlike thalli, often clinging to rocks. The principal variety is Porphyra umbilicalis, a red algae which tends to be a brownish colour, but boils down to a dark green pulp when prepared. Laver seaweed has a high content of dietary minerals, particularly iodine and iron. The high iodine content gives the seaweed a distinctive flavour in common with olives and oysters.

Laver seaweed has been cultivated as a food in Wales since at least the 17th century. It is prepared by repeated washings and then boiling until it becomes the soft purée-like product known as laverbread. The gelatinous paste that results can then be sold as it is or rolled in oatmeal. It is sometimes also coated with oatmeal prior to frying. Laverbread is traditionally eaten fried with bacon and cockles as part of a Welsh breakfast or, in the southwest of England, with hog's pudding.

The alga[edit]

The seaweed Porphyra umbilicalis which is used to make laverbread

Laverbread is made from the seaweed Porphyra umbilicalis from the genus Porphyra and family Bangiaceae. The seaweed is commonly found around the west coast of Great Britain and east coast of Ireland along the Irish Sea, where it is also known as sleabhac or slake.[2][1] Laver has a high content of dietary minerals, particularly iodine and iron. The high iodine content gives the seaweed a distinctive flavour in common with olives and oysters.[3]

Cultivation[edit]

Cultivation of laver seaweed as food is thought to be very ancient, though the first mention was in William Camden's Britannia in the early 17th century.[4] Laver seaweed cultivation is typically associated with Wales, and it is still gathered off the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire coasts,[5] although similar farming methods are used at the west coast of Scotland.

Preparation[edit]

Seaweed, laver, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy146 kJ (35 kcal)
5.11 g
Sugars0.49 g
Dietary fiber0.3 g
0.28 g
5.81 g
VitaminsQuantity
%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
33%
260 μg
29%
3121 μg
Thiamine (B1)
9%
0.098 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
37%
0.446 mg
Niacin (B3)
10%
1.47 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
10%
0.521 mg
Vitamin B6
12%
0.159 mg
Folate (B9)
37%
146 μg
Vitamin C
47%
39 mg
Vitamin E
7%
1 mg
Vitamin K
4%
4 μg
MineralsQuantity
%DV
Calcium
7%
70 mg
Iron
14%
1.8 mg
Manganese
47%
0.988 mg
Phosphorus
8%
58 mg
Potassium
12%
356 mg
Sodium
3%
48 mg
Zinc
11%
1.05 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

It is plucked from the rocks and given a preliminary rinse in clear water. The collected laver seaweed is repeatedly washed to remove sand, then boiled until it becomes a stiff, green purée with a smooth consistency.[6] Alternatively, steaming is utilised, which speeds up the process.[7] Once prepared, the seaweed can be preserved for about a week. During the 18th century, the product was packed into a crock and sold as "potted laver". To make laverbread, a traditional Welsh delicacy, the seaweed is boiled for several hours, then minced or pureed. The gelatinous paste that results can then be sold as it is, or rolled in oatmeal; it is sometimes coated with oatmeal prior to frying.

Laverbread can be eaten cold as a salad with lamb or mutton. A simple preparation is to heat the laverbread and to add butter and the juice of a lemon or Seville orange. Laverbread can be heated and served with boiled bacon.

Laverbread is traditionally eaten fried with bacon and cockles as part of a Welsh breakfast. It can also be used to make a sauce to accompany lamb, crab, monkfish, etc., and to make laver soup (cawl lafwr).[8] Richard Burton has been quoted as describing laverbread as "Welshman's caviar".[9]

Laver seaweed is often associated with Penclawdd and its cockles, being used traditionally in the Welsh diet and is still eaten widely across Wales in the form of laverbread. In addition to Wales, laverbread is eaten across the Bristol Channel in North Devon, especially the Exmoor coast around Lynmouth, Combe Martin and Ilfracombe. In North Devon it is generally not cooked with oatmeal and is simply referred to as 'laver' (/ˈlvər/ LAY-ver).

Laverbread is highly nutritious because of its high proportions of protein, iron, and especially iodine.[10][11] The dried purple (nori) variation is the main plant that contains significant amounts of vitamin B12,[10] which makes it the most suitable source of vitamin B12 available for vegans; consuming 4 g (0.1 oz) of dried purple laver provides the RDA of vitamin B12.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Laver Seaweed – A Foraging Guide to Its Food, Medicine and Other Uses". eatweeds.co.uk. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  2. ^ "British food seaweeds". Everything2. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Laver nori". www.hospitalityinfocentre.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  4. ^ Mason, Laura (2008-05-20). "Great British Bites: laverbread – Times Online". London: www.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  5. ^ Don, Monty (2001-11-11). "Down your way". The Observer. London. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  6. ^ "Laverbread Parsons Pickles " Home". laverbread.com. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  7. ^ "Laver Bread from Wild Food by Roger Phillips". app.ckbk.com. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  8. ^ "Cawl lafwr (Laver soup)". Traditional Welsh Recipes. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  9. ^ "Black Mountains Breakfast". Brecon Beacons National Park. Archived from the original on 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  10. ^ a b Dunford, Jane (30 May 2010). "What's green, slimy and good for you?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Welsh Laverbread - Protected food name with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)" (PDF). Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  12. ^ Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T, Teng F (May 2014). "Vitamin B12-containing plant food sources for vegetarians". Nutrients. 6 (5): 1861–73. doi:10.3390/nu6051861. PMC 4042564. PMID 24803097. Consumption of approximately 4 g of dried purple laver (Vitamin B12 content: 77.6 μg /100 g dry weight) supplies the RDA of 2.4 μg/day

Bibliography[edit]