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An Introduction to Mara

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With Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight fast approaching we’ve started to think about  the great Scottish produce available in our very own shops. We’re always looking for new and local products to stock at our attractions. This year we began selling Mara products in various locations throughout Scotland which have proved very popular with our visitors. We thought it’s time to find out a little more about the company and how they bring seaweed from the sea to our plates. Here’s what the team at Mara told us:

Of the Sea

Fiona and Xa from Mara collecting seaweed

Fiona and Xa collecting seaweed

Mara, which translates to ‘of the sea’ in Gaelic, is a Scottish company based in Edinburgh. It all started when Xa Milne and Fiona Houston met in their children’s school playground. One foraging book later the pair realised the potential of one of Scotland’s natural resources – seaweed

Seaweed is a food with a past, it has been eaten in Scotland since the 4th century. Just one teaspoon a day sprinkled onto your food gives you your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of essential minerals and trace elements, such as iodine, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Harvesting from the Sea

Harvesting seaweed

Harvesting seaweed

Harvesting seaweed

Harvesting seaweed

Mara select their seaweeds for their intriguing and enriching tastes and colours. Harvesting is ethically and environmentally friendly and follows a time-honoured crofting tradition, harvesting seasonally at the lowest monthly tides during the new and full moon. Controlled by the seasons, tides (when the seaweeds are most accessible from the shore) and weather, harvesters wade knee deep in the coldest, cleanest waters of Scotland using a hand-built currach boat to help haul in their catch. The seaweed is then carefully dried to retain freshness, nutrients and flavour. It is then milled to specification.

But enough of all the hard work! Here are just some of the flavours available at our shops:

  • Shony – Named after an ancient Hebridean Sea God, is both sweet and salty, a Great Taste Award-winning blend of three seaweeds: red, green and olive
  • Kombu – a smooth seasoning to enrich flavours, contains the fifth taste: umami
  • Dulse – a robust, smoky taste that compliments strong flavours, a great source of iron
  • Gift Tasting Tin – a taster of the three flavours above in test tubes to help you make up your mind on which is your favourite.

So how to use Mara seaweed to make the most of the flavours? Mara have very kindly crafted some recipes for us to celebrate Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight – stay tuned!

Mara seaweed in a Historic Scotland shop

Pick up Mara in our shops

Homecoming Scotland 2014

 

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About Author

Jean Burke

Jean works in the marketing department focusing mainly on our events programme. She mostly blogs about upcoming events, campaigns and all the wonderful goings-on at Historic Scotland.

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