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How to Make Dried Sea Lettuce Products

Sea Lettuce Introduction

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Sea lettuce is a bright green algae with lobed, ruffle-edged leaves that are coarse and sheet-like and resemble a leaf of lettuce. It grows in both high and low intertidal zones and marshes throughout the year. It is high in iron and protein and also rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and the essential vitamins A, B, C and B12, so sea lettuce is nutritional as the vegetable in people daily dish like soup or salads. Due to large number of moisture contained in sea lettuce, it is not easy to store sea lettuce for long time. Therefore people often process fresh sea lettuce into dried forms for long period storage.

What are Dried Sea-lettuce

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Dried sea lettuce, as the name explains, is the dried or processed form of the fresh sea lettuce. It is dehydrated vegetable manufactured through food drying, with a long shelf-life. In dried form, sea lettuce can be used whenever it is needed. Extremely rich in minerals, so dried sea lettuce is extensively utilized as nutritional supplements in many food like noodles dishes, salads, soups, rice dishes and etc..

Major Drying Types for Sea Lettuce Dehydration
1. Sun drying
Sun drying is simple and economic, suitable for small scale drying business. Sun drying is easily effected by weather, so the drying is featured with poor production continuity, uneven drying, bad sanitation condition, long drying time and etc.. Obviously for large scale food drying, sun drying will badly affect the product quality and quantity.
2. Hot air drying
Hot air drying is widely applied in sea vegetable drying, especially in large industrial drying. Hot air drying is characterized with less equipment invest, cleaning, good continuous operation, simple operation and high product quality.
The main working principle of hot air drying is as follows: hot air drying is to use thermal energy to heat materials and oxidize water in materials. Certain thermal energy will be consumed for removing water in materials. Air is generally used as the drying medium to dry materials. Air is heated in advance and then is sent to the dryer, so air can transfer much of its heat to materials. Under the effect of hot air, water in materials are easily gasified to form steam and is carried out of the dryer along with air. After hot air drying, moisture content in materials can achieve that of what is required.

How to Dry Sea Lettuce
1. Rinsing with freshwater
After harvesting, rinse sea lettuce with room temperature water to remove the salt and sea sand, then dry them in shadow. Please do not dry them in the sun.
2. Cutting
Cut the clean sea lettuce into slices or strips based on your demands.
3. Dewatering
In order to shorten drying time, you can dewater sea lettuce by centrifugal machine or drain them by manual pressure. Then, spread dewatered sea lettuce preparing for drying.
4. Drying

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Sea lettuce is generally dried in drying room. There are three kinds of drying rooms for using: a. Simple drying room adopting countercurrent drum wind drying, b. Drying room adopting double tunnel to form cocurrent and countercurrent drying, c. Stainless hot air circulation drying oven with drying temperature around 65℃-85℃. With this machine, sea lettuce is dried by different temperatures for gradually cooling down. Adopting first two types of drying rooms, you need to evenly spread sea lettuce on the drying plates, then put theses drying plates on the prepared drying vehicles. Next, Keep room temperature around 50℃, and meanwhile continuously flip sea lettuce to accelerate drying. The drying time is usually for 5 hours.
5. Packing and storage
Packing dried sea lettuce in plastic bags, and sealing. Store them in the dark. With these above steps, sea lettuce can be washed, dried and packaged under strict supervision. Storage and handling of sea-lettuce is carefully managed to ensure the highest quality product.
Please notice that these drying steps can also be employed in other sea vegetable drying like nori, seaweed, kelp.

Dried Sea Lettuce Products
1. Dried sea lettuce flakes or leaves

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Dried sea lettuce flakes or leaves are the final products during sea lettuce drying, and preserve all its qualities and increase their shelf life. With savory flavor, dried sea lettuce flakes or leaves can be added into salads, dishes, soups and so on. And the big leaves can be used to wrap fish or vegetables.
Prior to using dried sea lettuce flakes for eating or cooking, please soak it. Soak dried sea-lettuce in water until to regain the firm, tender texture of fresh sea-lettuce. You can either soak dried seaweed in water for a few minutes or simmer it until it’s tender. Soaking or cooking time totally depends on the type of sea-lettuce and the personal texture preference.
2. Dried sea lettuce powder

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Sea lettuce powder is the further processed product from its dried flakes. Put dried flakes into the grinding machine, and turn on the grinder until the dried sea-lettuce becomes pulverized into a fine powder. As the great spice, flavor enhancer and aromatic ingredient, sea lettuce powder is usually mixed into noodles dishes, salads, soups and etc. as a great salt substitute, also can be added to frozen and packaged meals.

Sea lettuce is edible and can be consumed fresh, or dried in flakes and powders. It is also processed and used in plenty of personal and cosmetic products such as soap, hair care products and facial creams, and also applied to make ice cream and medicine. So sea-lettuce is the multifuntional material in daily life to bring many benefits. 

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