Porphyra is the genus of the “foliaceous red algae”, the different varieties of which are known under the collective term nori. They owe their name to their red-violet color pigments, but they can also vary from dark green to black. Nori belongs to the group of macroalgae, they thrive in seawater and are therefore also referred to as sea algae. Sea algae can be found in almost every ocean and are increasingly valued as a nutrient-dense food. The “plant-like” algae are not so popular in Europe, but in Asia, in the coastal regions of North and South America, and in the former Soviet Union, “vegetables from the sea” hold a permanent spot on the menu. Porphyra has been valued for more than 1,000 years, particularly in Japan, where around 300,000 tons of algae are now sold every year. In the early 17th century, Tokyo was the focal point of nori production. A nori museum was even opened in Japan in 2008.
Where does our organic nori seaweed come from?
The nori for the BERTRAND meal replacement drinks comes from the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. This refers to the northwestern areas of North America, a very sunny region. Here the algae are grown in maritime aquaculture. Porphyra is characterized by the fact that it can also thrive at the deepest levels of the ocean. There are organic standards for the cultivation of algae. Our suppliers comply with EU standards that are set out in “Regulation 889/2008 regarding the ecological production of algae”. Aquaculture and seaweed facility operators are obliged, inter alia, to only use nutrients that occur naturally in the water or come from organic production. It needs to be ensured that algae stocks can adequately renew themselves and that harvesting areas are not damaged. Fertilizers, medicines, and pesticides are prohibited. Precise documentation regarding this is to be kept on file.
How is nori seaweed powder made?
Porphyra, i.e. nori, is best known in this country as a dried, paper-thin square that serves as a wrap for sushi. In Asia, the leaves also act as a wrap for meat and vegetables. In fact, in Asian and Japanese stores, there are very different nori products on offer: Yaki-Nori (platters for sushi), Kizami-Nori (strips for salads), Ajitsuke-Nori (for nibbling), or Ao-Nori (powder as Seasoning). For the BERTRAND meal replacement drinks, nori in powder form is needed. Breeding and further processing is a relatively complex process.
THE FIRST PHASE
For the breeding of Porphyra in aquaculture, ripe “algae leaves” that have been dried for a few hours must first be passed into shallow tanks filled with seawater. At the bottom of the basin, there is a substrate made of mussel shells, onto which the leaves release “carpospores”. These settle on the substrate and grow into thread-like structures for several months under regular exposure at a water temperature of 23-27 °C. These structures in turn release the so-called “conchospores”. By blowing in compressed air to firmly move the water or by cooling the water temperature to 18-20 °C, these structures are stimulated to do so.
THE SECOND PHASE
The conchospores now colonize the intended substrate, usually netted with a cord thickness between 3 and 5 millimeters. The nets are put into the ocean, into their “nursery”. During the cultivation phase that follows, the nets are lifted out of the water at regular intervals, where they are exposed to direct sunlight and dried. This prevents unwanted colonization with other, unwanted organisms. Once the young algae have reached a certain size, the net bundles are reared for another 40 to 50 days using various cultivation methods: either they are anchored to rods in the water during high tide and dry completely at low tide (“rod system”), or they drift on buoys in the water during the entire rearing phase (“floating system”).
DIVERS ARE NEEDED
40 to 50 days into the last cultivation phase, the first algae are ready to be harvested. Our organic nori are carefully hand-picked by divers. This is a very gentle process in which only part of the algae is cut manually. This allows for continuous regrowth. The cut plants are collected by floating boats at high tide. This prevents damage to the remaining stocks. Hand harvesting is a traditional harvesting method. From this point on, further harvest cycles can follow every 10-15 days over a period of about 5 months.
RINSE AND DRY
DRYING AND GRINDING
After the algae have been brought ashore, they are rinsed again in seawater, then cut into smaller pieces and washed in freshwater. They are then placed on bamboo mats, pressed, and then dried in drying chambers at a maximum temperature of 45 °C. Sometimes traditional methods are used and the drying process takes place in the sun. To make nori powder, the dried nori leaves are then gently ground.
But why Porphyra?
Porphyra is a red alga with high nutritional content. It is particularly rich in minerals, especially iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. In terms of vitamins, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and B vitamins.
Nori is also rich in high-quality, easily digestible protein. If you want to avoid animal protein sources, you will find Nori is a good vegetable protein source. Our vegan BERTRAND meal replacement drink also has these benefits. The high fiber content of Porphyra and its polyunsaturated fatty acid content (omega-3 and omega-6) is not to be dismissed. With only 35 kilocalories per 100 grams, the algae are very low in calories. When it comes to nori, two topics are of particular interest:
Sea vegetables do make a great case for themselves in terms of taste. Nori tastes slightly sweet, spicy, and hearty. In Asia, it is called “umami”, which means the fifth flavor in addition to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Because of this special and very intense aroma, shredded nori leaves are used as a condiment in Asia. In our Bertrand products also, the good, balanced taste is enhanced by the Porphyra ingredient.