In the middle depths of Lake Amsorak, where the sunlight still reaches through the water but where there is sufficient depth for their length, the long ribbons of the Amsorak kelp forests wave their long fronds. They are an important part of the lake ecology, providing hiding places, shelter and food to the many fish and turtles who live within the lake. They are also an important harvest for two reasons. First, as a source of akali for glassmaking and soap. Boats come out to the kelp forests, and the harvesters tie ropes around bundles of upper fronds, then dive down with sharp knives to a depth of five or ten feet to slice through the rubbery strands before returning to the surface where their companions pull the bundles of kelp on board using the ropes and tip them into special barrels with holes bored into them to allow the water to drain out. They then repeat this procedure, moving the boat as necessary, until all their barrels are full. Once they have a full load, they return to Akorros where the barrels are loaded onto carts and hauled to large warehouses on the outskirts. There, the kelp is emptied out of the barrels onto corrugated metal sheets on brick frames raised up over firepits and baked dry. Once dried, it is then burned in large stone-lined pits. The white ash, which is rich in potash and soda, is collected. This is the alkali that is so important to the glassmaking and soapmaking. The other use for the kelp could not be more different. The softest sections of new growth are selected, and are soaked for three days in a sugar solution. The resulting liquid then has flavouring added (most commonly sour cherry syrup) before being boiled up, constantly stirred with large wooden paddles, until it starts to set sufficiently to coat the back of the paddles. Once it has reached that point, it is poured out on large powdered-sugar-covered trays to a depth of an inch and left to set. Once cooled, it is sliced into inch cubes with long, razor-sharp blades and packed into boxes (with lots more powdered sugar to stop them sticking together) and sold as a sweet delicacy known as Guindel (pronounced GWINN-dell). * The kelp is inspired by the kelp tradition of Orkney.
These are two really very different areas of application. I especially like the sweet. Great.