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Working with Irish Moss

irish moss gelIrish Moss – a red seaweed – is consumed very differently to other known edible seaweeds, because of its natural texture and the very large amount of mucilage it contains. This jelly quality is what gives Irish Moss its excellent culinary properties as well as its beneficial effects on the body.

Like Agar, Irish Moss is frequently used as a vegan substitute for gelatin because it has a similar consistency, with the added benefit of being able to use it completely raw and in plant form.  Although it has traditionally been simmered and consumed as a liquid broth or to set puddings, modern-day recipes often make a raw blended gel which is then added to various foods and drinks as a nutritious thickening agent.

The strong aroma of ocean that comes out of a packet of Irish Moss will turn into a barely detectable flavour after soaking & rinsing.  The colour too will lighten and if the little red stems are removed, you’ll have a cream colour jelly.

Irish Moss can be used as a thickener using 2 different methods:
1.  Simmer the seaweed in a liquid over heat
Rinse the dry Irish Moss thoroughly many times to remove any debris and lighten the flavour. Add one cup (or less if you require a soft set) of Irish Moss to two cups of the liquid to set and simmer slowly until most of the seaweed has dissolved (20-25 minutes). Remove any undissolved fragments or strain off solids through a sieve and pour into a mould to set. Irish Moss has many culinary applications whether you choose to simmer it or have it raw.

2. Soak it raw.
This involves a bit more work but worth it if you prefer raw.

  1. Rise the Irish Moss in cold water until tony its of debris have been removed.  Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.
  2. Soak approximately 15g of dried Irish Moss in 1/2 cup of cold water for approximately 4-6 hours (ideally overnight).
  3. When this is completed, drain and give the Irish Moss a thorough rinse. Cut it into bits and remove any little red stems or hard calcified pieces which have not softened. 
  4. Blend or puree 1 cup of Irish Moss with 1/4 cup of water in a high speed blender until it becomes a paste.  You may need to add a bit more water and scrape the sides down, but try to use as little water as possible. 
  5. Rub some of the paste between your fingers; continue blending if you feel any lumps or grit, otherwise it may not set properly. The moss is ready when it has a creamy white colour and nearly double size and weight than its dry original state.  It should be odourless and tasteless.
  6. Store the gel in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (although it may last way longer). You can also freeze it, simply pour the mixture into ice-cube trays, freeze, and store in an airtight bag or container.

In recipes, use 1-5 Tbsp of Irish moss gel to 1 cup of product.  The quantity depends on the recipe you are making and thickness desired. You may need to try a few times to get the perfect ratio going for a given recipe. Look up our recipe section for examples that have worked for us.

As with most foods, especially raw products, the quality and source of ingredients are important. Irish Moss grows naturally in different shades of purple, red & brown and it is available in many locations along the Atlantic and may be presented in different forms:  powdered, flaked and whole.  Our Irish Moss is harvested from the wild in Ireland and is of the best quality, and tested for contaminants.

Note:  Commercially altered forms of the plant like some of the powdered Irish Moss, sand cured Irish Moss and carrageenan gum have been processed and have lost some of their goodness. 

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