Irish Moss is a natural seaweed that thrives near Ireland, but it can also be grown around the Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss is a small red algae that is about 20 cm long. It’s texture is firm to the touch and it’s natural dark red color will bleach golden brown when it’s exposed to sunlight.
The moss I use in my recipes is called irish moss, and is slightly different than the red irish moss, from which carrageenan is apparently derived from. (read my note further down on this subject).
Irish moss possesses many healing properties and an impressive nutritional content. It contain 15 elements essential to the human body. It’s packed with calcium, iodine, potassium, Vitamins A, D, E and K. It’s just as a remedy for constipation, sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, and used to soften the skin and heal chapped skin. Irish moss should not be taken if you are taking blood thinning medication.
How to use and make Irish Moss
Irish moss is a vegan, raw ingredient. It can be used as a gelling agent without cooking, in a variety of recipes, like Ice cream, breads, mousse, smoothies, salad dressings, pies, nut cheeses, nut yoghurt etc. Believe it or not, if you can’t eat it, wear it! Use with your essential oils, as a facial mask, with a lotion and even for cracked and dry feet and hands and sunburns.
The irish moss has an oceanic smell, but this disappears after rinsing and soaking.
- 1 cup irish moss, soaked
- 2 cups purified water (or more to cover)
- Rinse the irish moss in cold water, until it’s cleansed well. The raw product is filled with sand, so you need to rinse it several times before soaking
- Let the irish moss soak in cold water for 6-12 hours or overnight (it can soak for longer if needed)
- Place the soaked irish moss in a high-speed blender with the purified water.
- Process until it has formed into a paste – make sure it’s blended well or it will not set properly. The paste should be smooth, when rubbing it between the fingers.
- Use the gel immediately or keep in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it in ice cube trays.
It has been brought to my attention, through Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, that irish moss is supposedly dangerous to consume, due to the carrageenan derived from the product, which is known to cause gastrointestinal disorders, incl. IBS and ulcers.
Carrageenan is widely used as a fat substitute in many food products, incl. soy milk, almond milk, ice creams and more, so people have been consuming carrageenan for years. Carrageenan is also used in cosmetic products, toothpastes, ulcer medications and many more products.
The processed form is apparently causing inflammation and colon cancers in the worst case. The raw and unprocessed version is according to a study less dangerous, due to all the other good things in the seaweed. So now there is this hysterical hype about avoiding irish moss in the health industry, and the question is now, what should you do?
First of all I urge you to do your own research and then decide for yourself. I haven’t been consuming a lot of irish moss myself, but my opinion is, that a perfect natural healthy food can be processed into a dangerous food, and that’s what I believe has happened with irish moss or should I say the product carrageenan.
Olive oil is a great example of what can happen with a perfect food. Olive oil has been used for thousands of years and is a very healthy oil, when it’s extra virgin, cold-pressed and never heated. The moment the food industry started to mess with it, and turned it into a hydrogenated product and even a butter substitute, that’s when it got unhealthy. On top of this people started to use olive oil for frying and cooking, and we all know that you can’t heat olive oil, as it turns into a carcinogen (causing cancer).
So, do your research on all the strange products out there, that you most likely consume and may even use in alternative baking and cooking. Carrageenan, xanathan, guar gum, locust bean gum and you name them…. they are all processed and added to your foods. If you have allergies or intestinal problems, I would take a look at what you consume, and not just treat it with medication. Not even your doctor knows what’s in your food, so be careful.
I personally advocate everything in moderation. If you consume a natural product like irish moss (literally take the seaweed, clean it, soak it and use it as is), then you should be ok. If you use irish moss in an already processed form, I would think twice. If you feel bad/ill after consuming irish moss or products containing irish moss or even the carrageenan in one of the products below, I would stop using it.
Today, when I am about to post this, I actually found the link to the study performed on irish moss. It shows it has a lot of flaws and that Andrew Weil may have had a fast trigger here, and not investigated his claims in depth. I think being critical to studies coming from special funded sources always need an extra in-depth and critical investigation – but judge for yourself. when you read the study you will see, that:
- Irish moss/carrageenan was not tested on humans
- The quantity of carrageenan was far more than normal consumption in a recipe
- Irish moss and carrageenan are biochemically to different things
- The tissue used for this research was exposed to carrageenan for 12 hours, which is much longer than your colon would be, if you pass food through your system in a normal way
If get more information on this subject, I will definitely update it here. As it is with everything in life… read the labels on your food!
Products Known to Contain Carrageenan
- Coconut milk (some brands)
- Cottage cheese/yogurt
- Frosting mixes
- Hershey’s™ Real Chocolate – (just a name, not so real!)
- Ice cream and sherbets
- Jams & Jellies
- Liquid coffee creamers
- Non-dairy puddings
- Prepared pie fillings
- Processed cheeses
- Processed meat or fish
- SILK™ and some other brands of soy milks