Two Juneau locals have put bull kelp on the map with their fresh kelp salsas, pickles, and flakes. Matt Kern and Lia Heifetz are the brains behind Barnacle kelp products, bringing the Alaska coast into the kitchen. Matt says it started five years ago with a friend’s recipe that caught on quickly.
“We became part of that kelp community here in Juneau. Every year we would set a time and bring a cooler full of kelp home and call up friends and then a party would ensue in the kitchen; with a bunch of blenders humming we would fill up buckets and totes with salsa and pickles and then everyone would bring a bunch home. We found that every year more and more friends wanted to be part of the operation. So our batches started getting out of control.”
Lia says kelp can be a tough sell, but putting it in salsa changes that.
“Kelp Salsa is an exciting product because most people are familiar with salsa. We think of it as a gateway food. So if you did not know there was kelp in it, it would almost be undetectable; yet it is about 40% kelp. We found that for people who are a little more hesitant or unfamiliar with eating seaweed our kelp salsa is a good place to start.”
Matt says the salsa flavor combinations complement each other.
“There are tomatillos are in the Verde, we have tomatoes and onions in the original, and then a chili, tomato and roasted beet combination in the campfire salsa making it a little spicier. What we have agreed on from eating a lot of it is that the kelp gives it this extra richness of flavor and it gives it a crisper texture, so it tastes a little fresher, a little more flavorful and richer than your standard salsa.”
Matt and Lia want to help pave the way for more Alaska kelp production and want their company to support local farmers.
“We are excited about the future. We want to do everything we can to become a robust processer here in Southeast Alaska and beyond so that we can help this industry get on the stable ground and provide opportunities for more people who want to make a living off the sea in a different way.”“And we are really excited to grow our business alongside the mariculture of kelp. We hope that by the time the kinks have been worked out of the farming of kelp that we can be a guaranteed buyer and be able to support the kelp farms.”
Go to barnaclefoods.com and enter the promo code FISH for 15% off thru Friday, and find links at alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook.