Carrageenan originates from the red seaweed plant ‘Chondrus Crispus’ commonly known as Irish Moss, native to the British Isles. It has been used in traditional cooking since the fifteenth century. Although carrageenan was introduced on an industrial scale in the 1930s, it was first used in China around 600 B.C. and also Ireland around 400 A.D. It’s also widely used as a thickener and gelling agent when mixed with fluids. Unlike gelatine, which is made from animal products, carrageenan is appropriate for vegans.
HOW IT’S MADE?
The sea plant is grown from the water’s surface to a depth of about 2 meters on nylon lines strung between bamboo floats. It is harvested after three months which then the plant weighs approximately 1 kg. After harvest, the seaweed is dried, baled, and sent to the carrageenan manufacturer. There the seaweed is grounded, sifted to remove impurities such as sand, and washed thoroughly. After treatment with hot alkali solution, the cellulose is removed from the carrageenan by centrifugation and filtration. This resulting in carrageenan solution which is then concentrated by evaporation. It is dried and grounded to specification.
WHY DO WE USE IT?
Carrageenan is an abundant, natural material which is very useful as a thickening agent. Other thickening agents exist, but carrageenan represents our best choice because it is a naturally sourced material with little taste or odour which has a long history of safe use in food products. We favour natural carrageenan over gelatine which is made from animal products.