From raw algae biomass to processed algae, an example of Sea Spaghetti

Edible seaweed that reaches our plates is a processed product which has undergone treatments from the moment it has been harvested to its marketing stage. But what are the impacts of these transformations on the colour, texture and taste of sea spaghetti?

Studies enabling the characterisation of fresh and processed algae from a nutritional and organoleptic point of view provide new knowledge and practical tools for any formulator or chef willing to use algae. Between raw seaweed harvested fresh from the sea and an intermediate food product (IAP), such as a chopped, blanched seaweed which will be integrated into a final dish, a series of processes are implemented. These processes, which are necessary for the preservation and use of seaweed, tend to modify its colour, texture as well as its sensory, nutritional and culinary properties.

The study of sea spaghetti independently of the type of treatment applied on the biomass, implies the texture of the seaweed will be less firm compared to its fresh state, and the colours will be modified. Indeed, the seaweed can change from brown to green by undergoing a blanching process and to dark green after deep-freezing pre-treatments.

Generally speaking, marine and animal food smells are reinforced with most treatments while the plant-based aromas found in algae decrease compared to those of fresh seaweed.

The composition of the seaweed is also impacted by the treatments. For example, significant leaching of mineral matter can be observed during blanching and / or salting treatments. As a result, the iodine content can be modulated and nutrition labelling will hence change.

In conclusion and although some nutrients (potassium, vitamin C, polyphenols or iodine) are partly lost during different processes, processed sea spaghetti remains overall a good source of fibre, iodine, magnesium and vitamin K1. Its main strengths lie in a very good acceptance by consumers thanks to its green colour (for blanched seaweed), crunchy texture, and light taste with very few fishy aromatic notes.

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