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Irish Moss is unprocessed, raw seaweed, which can be used as a gelling agent without cooking. It’s an amazing thickener and emulsifier (able to bind fat and water-based ingredients) and can help cut down on the quantity of nuts needed in many recipes.
It is also known as pearl moss, carrageen moss, seamuisin, curly moss, curly gristle moss, Dorset weed, jelly moss, sea moss, white wrack, and ragglus fragglus.
In its fresh condition it is soft and cartilaginous, varying in color from a greenish-yellow, red, to a dark purple or purplish-brown. I have only used the yellow tinted one.
It is easy to use, but can be difficult to find in health food stores. The best bet is to purchase it online.
Over the years I have tested several different brands and my all time favorite is Whole Leaf Irish Moss. I don’t use the powder form, so I don’t have any experience in how it works in recipes.
There is a lot of controversy about Irish moss. There have been health concerns with the food additive “carrageenan gum” which is derived from Irish moss. This additive is found in many commercially, highly processed foods. Everyone stopped right there with the headlines that they read and touted Irish Moss as “harmful” to use in raw foods recipes. But from all the reading that I had have done… It is not the same as consuming pure Irish moss. Carageenan is a heated and concentrated form of Irish Moss that is has been highly processed into chemical form. Carageenan has lost the nutritional value of Irish Moss and makes it a health hazard.
There are a few sites out there that speak strongly against it and others who don’t. To read all points of view, please click (here), (here). If you are in doubt, then please do keep it out. I only ask that you always do your own thorough research, read the papers yourself and make your own decisions.
I do believe however, that if you eat any one particular food in excessive amounts, it can cause harm. I rarely use Irish moss but it has been a fun ingredient to play around with from time to time. I am not here to debate its pro’s and con’s. Please do your homework if you are concerned about it.
Yields roughly 2 cups paste
Starting the soaking process.
Just after 6 hours of soaking, you can how much it has started to swell.
It is starting to get slippery…
I am stopping the soaking/rinsing process at the 18 hour mark
because it is starting to break-down on its own. Just for fun,
I weighted the dry and soaked Irish Moss. We started with
2 oz of dried moss, after soaking it came in at 12 oz.
After blending for about 30 seconds, using my Vitamix tamper,
and adding 1/4 cup of water… a beautiful gel has been created.
The gel is used in different recipes or you can simply add it to a salad dressing, a mayonnaise, smoothie or any other dish that requires thickening. Use 2-3 tablespoons of gel for 1 cup of dough or liquid. It works very well also to keep nut milks from separating while in the fridge and to make them thicker (one teaspoon will suffice here).
Irish Moss will make any liquid fluffy and is a substitute for gelatin and other thickeners. You may use it for sweet deserts, ice-creams, shakes, parfait, mousse, pies, as well as savory dishes, nut cheese and nut “yogurt “. This product can thicken your recipes and give a gel like texture that you would get from adding a bunch of fat and nuts. So you really can make guilt free raw desserts and dressings!