How to cook with Irish Moss
Irish Moss, or Carrageen, is primarily used as a vegan thickener.
It hardly adds flavour (you can detect a subtle sweet odour though, somewhere somehow every so slightly) and can be used to thicken stews, soups and sauces, and is THE vegan alternative to gelatine or a healthy alternative to corn starch. Indeed, it is used to set any liquids to make desserts such as jellies, puddings and pannacottas.
It has also been used as a remedy against the cold by making a tea out of it. See below for details.
To set jellies, puddings and pannacotta
Very little carrageen is actually needed to set a good amount of liquid to a solid (such as the milk for pannacotta/carrageen pudding). 10 grams (a handful) is usually enough to set a pudding using 800gr milk.
Simply rinse the carrageen thoroughly to rid it of salt, sand and shells that might have gotten stuck in it, in cold water.
The setting agent (carrageenan) is extracted from the seaweed by boiling it for about 30 minutes and then pushing it through a sieve to extract as much of it as possible. The remaining pieces can be left in the pudding but if you prefer to take these out that is okay. They do give a nice texture but then, some people prefer orange juice without the bits!
You should know that the setting takes place when the liquid cools down, so don’t be upset(!) if after 30 minutes your pudding still looks like warm milk!
To thicken sauces, stews, gravies and soups
To use Irish Moss to thicken any liquids, use it as described above, but simply use less Irish Moss or allow to boil for a shorter period.
Irish Moss Tea
Irish Moss is a traditional remedy against a chesty cough, and cure hangovers (ask the Irish). Boil it up and add honey, ginger, lemon and cinnamon, or any other spices you fancy!