Have you ever heard about ‘carrageenan?’ Well, there’s a lot of fuss over the internet and many controversies around it. Let’s discover what it is all about. Carrageenan, which also goes by the name ‘Irish moss’ is a popular additive in the food world which is generally used as a stabilizer, emulsifier or a thickening agent. It is a obtained from red seaweed or algae and is completely natural to use. Generally, it is used to thicken products like ice cream, milk, puddings, jellies and yogurt. You might also find it listed under the food labels of many packaged foods but never under the nutritional facts section. This is because it has zero nutritional value, no fats, calories, proteins or anything at all.
Firstly, carrageenan is a plant-based product and can be consumed by both vegans and vegetarians. It is generally used as a substitute to gelatin which is contrarily an animal-based ingredient. Below are some of the things where carrageenan is mostly used.
Milk products: It is added to improve the texture and mouth-feel of most dairy products like cottage cheese, yogurt and almond milk. If added to an ice cream, it can improve its smoothness and creaminess by ensuring fine crystal formation.
Beer: Carrageenan is used in beer to improve the filtration and stability. It is also used as a better clarifier and an energy-saver compared to other similar products.
Desserts: Jellies or gummy candies use carrageenan in place of gelatin and agar agar to form a clean gel-like texture which is significant in all gelly products.
Toothpaste: It is used as an emulsifier to stop the separation of oil and water, thereby making the toothpastes smoother.
As already mentioned, carrageenan is a vegetarian and natural substitute to gelatin. So, let’s discover some recipes where it can be easily used or can be used as a good substitute to eggs and otherwise.
Eggless Peach Bavarois: Let’s start with a recipe where we have used carrageenan to give you an idea as to how to go about it. In this dessert, carrageenan is used instead of gelatin, to give it the perfect texture. Try this delicious and creamy eggless dessert with fresh peaches, yogurt and enjoy!
Masala Doodh Pannacotta: Presenting you masala doodh in an all-new avatar. This is one of the most popular Indo-Italian fusion desserts from our khazana. The best part is that you can easily replace gelatin and use carrageenan and make this recipe in your home kitchen. Try and tell us your experience.
Tiramisu Cheesecake: Carrageenan is a blessing to cheesecake lovers who are vegetarian or vegans, because it can be the perfect substitute to gelatin in a cheesecake. We’ve tried this awesome version with carrageenan and shared with you all. You try it soon!
Jello Pudding: While carrageenan is already used in making jellies and gummy candies, we suggest you try making this fabulous pudding too with it. You will definitely thank us later!
While there are a lot of rumours about carrageenan, there is no scientific evidence to prove that it is harmful for anyone. We still suggest you to read up more about the side effects and allergies related to carrageenan before you plan on using it in any recipe. And, now that you have understood everything about the wonderful ingredient, if you try using it in your home kitchen, share your reviews with us and give us some interesting recipe suggestions too in the comment section.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.