Parsons have been purveyors of laverbread for generations. Laverbread is in the culinary DNA of Wales, a food icon and one of the food wonders of the world. Versatile and nutritious, it’s one of Wales’s greatest treasures, with a history that goes back for centuries.
See also our Fresh Frozen Laverbread option
Ingredients: Laver seaweed, water, sea salt.
Allergens: Cannot confirm crustacean and mollusc free.
Storage: Despatched tinned. Please follow storage directions on the packaging. 12 month shelf life minimum.
What is it?
Despite its name, Laverbread is not a type of bread at all, it is a puree which is made from laver seaweed that has been slowly simmered for several hours. Laverbread is the cooked version of ‘laver’ – porphyra seaweed – a diaphanous red algae found abundantly along Wales’s rocky coastline.
This laver seaweed is hand gathered in a sustainable manner from the UK coastline and then washed several times to remove all the sand, molluscs, and any crustaceans. It is then slowly cooked for several hours before being blended into a gluey puree.
Laverbread is considered a fine delicacy by many.
What does it taste like?
Laverbread has this innate ability to make everything taste good. Maybe it’s what the Japanese call "Unami” which means "essence of deliciousness" and is one of the core tastes including elements of Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Savoury and Salty.
As a standalone ingredient, it is something that has the marmite effect. It has an Olive Mariney flavour and may not be a food you will fall in love with straight away. It needs time to take in and appreciate its versatility and depth of flavour.
Walter Davies who found himself travelling through Milford Haven in 1805 has a good way of putting it:
"I never had seen it till I came into this country, and found myself, from its hue and consistency, so prejudiced against its appearance, that it was with difficulty I was prevailed on to taste it; but, my taste soon reproached, me for my squeamishness; and I have never since exposed myself to a repetition of such reproaches when I have had an opportunity of falling in with this best of all mutton sauces".
For the uninitiated out there, be more like Walter Davies and give it a try. Once you take this first tentative step you will soon be eating laverbread like an old sea dog, just toast with lots of laverbread on it!
Laver, the king of seaweed superfoods
"Laver seaweed contains more vitamins and minerals than any land-based vegetable".
"Gram for gram, Laver contains more protein than chicken."
"Laver contains 10x as much vitamin A as spinach and 4x times as much vitamin C as apples”.
Laverbread is rich in potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, and protein. The level of protein is the highest of all the seaweeds and said it can be between 30 - 50% protein. I found this percentage staggering and didn't quite believe it so I've been sending a sample of dried laver to the labs every month for a year to monitor protein levels and how they change according to the seasons: On average per 100g sample, dried laver holds 35% protein, which is amazing, this means, gram for gram, Laver contains more protein than chicken.
In addition, Laverbread is a powerhouse of vitamins and amino acids and has particularly high concentrations of Vitamin A, B2, B9, and C. Amino acids are essential for muscle development and strength. Vitamin A is important for the immune system and helps support bone health and eye health. Vitamin B9 is important in red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth. Vitamin C helps boost antioxidant levels, lower blood pressure and helps the body repair itself.
“Out of all the seaweeds Laver is the healthiest, it’s the king of all the seaweeds”.
How to use it
Traditionally laverbread was for many years and to this day eaten as part of breakfast in Wales. The laverbread is mixed with porridge oats to make patties that are then fried alongside bacon, eggs and sometimes cockles.
However, this ingredient is so versatile and packs such fantastic flavour that the only limitation to its use is your imagination. Simple recipes such as mixing laverbread with salted butter open up a world of possibilities from pan-fried lobster to bacon butties to pasta. Or try adding a spoonful to your mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs for making a protein-rich breakfast.
Sensational Laverbread recipes
Steak, Oyster, Guinness and Laverbread recipe.
Chorizo, Laverbread and Pea Soup (with vegan alternatives).
Cod with Tomato and Laverbread sauce.
More Laverbraed recipes
National Laverbread Day
To celebrate laverbread we have started National Laverbread Day which takes place every year on April 14th. Visit laverbreadday.co.uk for more information.
The back story to Laverbread
No one knows precisely when people in west Wales first started eating laver, some say it was first introduced as a survival food by the Vikings, while others say it goes back to the very first inhabitants of Wales. It may have been the first coastal inhabitants who took that bold step into the unknown world of laver seaweed and put it on their plate!
In doing so it started a food culinary wonder which became the very fabric of Welsh culture and traditions. It was iconic seaweed huts at Freshwater West beach in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, which inspired Jonathan to start The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, Cafe Mor, and Barti Ddu Rum. We believe Wales and beyond should be singing about Laverbread as loud as they can.
Laverbread has to be one of the food wonders of the world, (note that Jonathan is Welsh and so completely biased);
- It is only found in Wales
- It is harvested from rocks in the wilds of West Wales which have the second largest tidal range in the world and takes the full force of the Atlantic storms
- Not many other foods take several hours to cook.
- No other food looks so unappealing after several hours of cooking
- It is a powerhouse of nutrients, vitamins and minerals
- Its versatility is only being discovered now in modern-day cooking
- It tastes sublime or as the Japanese say has an "essence of deliciousness"
- It is the untamed mysterious lady of the seaweed world, constantly changing its mind where it grows and when it grows. I spend my days endlessly chasing it around the coastline.
- Laver has one of the strangest and most complicated life cycles where it can be both male and female, and at one stage of its life is neither. You could even call it the original non-binary life form.
Laverbread has been nicknamed 'the weed of hireath' a Welsh word which is not easily translated but more or less means: "It’s a kind of longing for a person, a place or a time that you can’t get back to, a kind of unattainable longing," explained Marian Brosschot, a Welsh language officer currently working in Trelew, Patagonia.
Laverbread embodies this memory, sense of time, belonging, myth, values, meaning, sense of place and belief. Maybe think of it as severe nostalgia with a dash of sadness and a sprinkle of happiness at the same time.