Carrageenan originated in Ireland from the use of a red seaweed that grows on little rocks (or carrigín in Gaelic) to thicken jellies and puddings; hence, it's alternative names: Irish moss, sea moss or pearl moss.
The main red algae used (Carrageen; Chondrus crispus) is found on rocky coasts of northern Europe and even used to be collected in New England, especially Massachusetts - where it was spread out to dry and bleach on local beaches; it was moistened with sea water and allowed to dry four or five times until a pale, yellow horny material called "moss" resulted. This contains "carrageenan", a mucilaginous substance that can be used as a gelling agent.
Carrageenan can be used:
- To make panna cotta and thicken jellies instead of using gelatine
- To make room temperature gels and will provide maximum flavour release
Overview of Carrageenan's Characteristics
|Applications||Fine ambient gels, milk-based gels, emulsions, suspensions|
|Rate of hydration||Rapid|
|Gel strength||Firm, elastic gels|
|pH solubility||4.5 - 10.0|
|Dosage||0.2 - 2.0%|
Traditional Cure for Coughs and Colds
Carrageen is an old Irish cure for coughs and colds - a curative draught is prepared by simmering some fronds of seaweeds in milk and water, after which the liquid is strained and sometimes flavoured with honey and lemon juice.