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My Jamaican Sea Moss Harvesting Adventure | How We Harvest Jamaican Irish Moss
Earlier this week, I had the wonderful accompany my friend, Ms (Maxine) James and her family to do sea moss (Irish Moss) harvesting.
It has been long overdue and I couldn't wait! (See Video Below)
So yes, I got up from early and head out west to Lucea - in Hanover, that's where they are based, and met up with the family.
Destination, the historic Lucea Harbour :-)
But the way, I noted that it was not a beach sort of environment, it was just as it is named, a harbour, not quite conducive to beach and beach activity, but it has a rich history.
Anyway, without long we were in the water picking sea moss - and neither swimming nor diving!
How is that?
Well, they used an interesting technique.
You see the fact is that this type of sea moss grows closer to where the river meets the sea and so you'll typically you'll find it growing right there in the hallow waters.
The trick though is that you have to go walk the sea barefoot and go early before the water gets murky. It is also seasonal so you have to know when to go. The best times, she said though, is usually in June/ July period.
So yes, you walk the seabed and feel with you feet! Diving/swimming is also an option, if you choose, but..
the water here is rather shallow and
Perhaps because it intersects with the river here, it is usually a bit darker.
I managed to surprise myself and 'picked' a few lofty, juicy batches though! Yes with my feet :-)
But the expert was... no, not Glen, her husband, but Maxine herself!
She said she learned the trade from her dad, the expert and 'original Irish moss man' in that part of the island.
In total, we harvested probably about three (3) pounds, which was a little less then they normally pull in, but above that, I got the opportunity to see and experience real Irish moss hunting!
By the way, we had two types, one appeared to be the genus gracilaria and the other chondrus crispus.
And yes, I captured it in THIS VIDEO (below) for you and all my readers!
You'll notice that I put out a challenge there though.
I asked those who might be experts in the field of sea plants or aquatic environments, to observe our haul and share their knowledge on that; not just the scientific aspects of the irish moss but also the other sea plants we found there as well.
AND THE BONUS?
We went to harvest sea moss but ended up also sighting a HUGE and reputed dangerous jelly fish, as well as a sea crab (which we caught as well)!
Sounds fun right? Oh yes!
If you haven't seen the video, be sure to watch it here on YouTube.
By the way, I'll now grab the opportunity to respond to a few popular questions about Jamaican sea moss...
What does Jamaican sea moss taste like?
It's a seaweed and so it has that sort of taste. Not quite like your favourite drink I'd guess, but it is easy to love. Note that when mixed in smoothies or blended in drinks it reduces the tastes greatly.
Is sea moss really good for you?
Ok, well I'm not an expert, but outside of the fact that fore parents swear on it, I can attest to its effectiveness, at the least for energy. But the fact is that the health benefits of Irish Moss are well documented, it is said to have over 90% if the 110 vitamins and minerals that the body needs!
TheBeet.com calls it, "The Secret Weapon for Immunity, Energy and Weight Loss".
And according to WebMd.com, t is one one of best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids! These fats they said, are critical for a healthy heart. Of course, Omega-3 fatty acids is connected to a lower risk of heart disease, blood clots, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Read more here, and here.
Oh my gosh, there are so many ways these days. I can tell you from my experience here in Jamaica, that we consume it mainly as a punch.
And a PUNCH alright!
Here's the procedure
Remove any unwanted debris, sea stones, excess salt etc. from the sea moss
Wash in tap water with lime or vinegar to negate any excess raw or sea odour
Allow it to soak it overnight (12-24 hours)
Then boil with linseed (optional) between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on the variety, to get it soft.
Then cool, add milk (or soy) and blend with your favourite spices and sweeteners (nutmegs are a sure for us).
Today though, our old time favourite energy booster is now made in gel form and used in smoothies, as thickening agent in cooking, as a salad dressing, dip for fruit, face mask, and hair mask. When used as gel is it typically not boiled but cleaned and soak extensively then blended. Note that it will thicken, if not while processing, in the fridge in two to three hours.
And more and more we are seeing in powders and capsules as well!
There's oh so much more about this wonder plant though.
By the way, Rilee from Oregon in the USA asked me a question about the popular foods to eat in Jamaica.
P.S. And, as I mentioned in the video, if you are interested in sourcing sea moss from Jamaica, be sure to reach out to me via my email address gwellesley (at) gmail.com (or via the comments below) and I'll respond to you accordingly.
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About The Author
A patriotic Jamaican who adores its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.
To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day (and over 1.1millon page views monthly)
efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications,
including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers,
as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies
and universities. Read more about him here.