Clearspring dulse is a top-quality product from dedicated suppliers

Clearspring dulse is a top-quality product from dedicated suppliers who put their heart and soul into the harvest of those vegetables. Recently, we learnt about the magical harvesting procedure which brings this much-loved vegetable with its beautiful red colour and rich flavour.

Dulse, or Palmaria palmata to give it its botanical name, originates from the North Atlantic ocean. The earliest record of dulse is of St Columba’s monks harvesting the sea vegetable some 1,400 years ago in Ireland, and it is there that has shown the greatest eagerness towards the consumption of dulse. In fact, the common name ‘dulse’ originates from the Irish, and has come to be in widespread use even in countries where English is not used. Dulse is frequently used in Northern Ireland, Iceland and North East America as both a food and a medicine.

Dulse is a seaweed which grows attached to Liminae algae or rocks by its discoid holdfast (root-like structure). When the tide comes in, it is often covered by around 25 meters of water. The tentacles of the dulse, which range in colour from deep rose to darkish burgundy, are said to be very beautiful when they dance in the tidal surge. In order to reach the dulse, harvesters must travel in flat-bottomed dories to remote shores in the early hours of the morning. The harvesters then drop their anchors on a very long, shallow bay and wait for the tide to go out. A dulse harvester experiencing the harvest for the first time described how, as the sun was slowly rising and beginning to light up the sky, the entire landscape was painted an orangey red hue, which he suddenly realized was dulse.

The employees then begin to walk around under the rising sun, gathering up the dulse into their baskets one small handful at a time. Once the collected dulse has been safely returned to shore, it is laid out on nets laid out on fields of beach stones to dry in the sun, and then carefully packed for storage. Because the experience of harvesting dulse is such a magical one, there are many in the business who have been doing it for years, referring to themselves as ‘dulsers’. Dulse is very nutritious and rich in fibre, and is considered one of the most delicious sea vegetables, with its slightly salty flavour and chewy texture. It contains high levels of protein, even higher than chickpeas, almonds and whole sesame seeds. It makes a very versatile ingredient, and can even be pan-fried and combined with tomato and lettuce to give a great-tasting DLT sandwich.