Written by 0121click on March 7, 2021
rish moss is not actually a “moss” per say but a type of seaweed that has been utilized as a food source for centuries in Ireland. This is where “Irish” moss gets its name. The seaweed was most commonly prepared as a healing sea vegetable used in soup broths to fortify and strengthen malnourished individuals.
During the Irish famine in the mid 1800’s, seaweeds became a main supplement of nutrition for the Irish people, playing a significant role as an abundant, easily harvested and prepared source of sustenance throughout this historical food shortage.
Irish sea moss is a “red seaweed” variety that is often sourced from the Chondrus crispus species, but is also derived from the genus Gracilaria, a less leafy variation.
Chondrus crispus commonly grows off the shores of Ireland, Great Britain, the Atlantic coastlines of the U.S. and Canada, most European shores as well as Iceland. Whereas gracilaria, another type of red marine algae also referred to as irish moss, comes from warmer oceanic environments.
Chondrus crispus or gracilaria, being very mucilaginous when soaked in water, is one that you wouldn’t normally eat like dulse, kelp or nori seaweeds. With a rubbery and tough texture, it is largely inedible straight from the sea. It is, as we mentioned, traditionally simmered
and consumed as a liquid soup broth. Today, however, many modern recipes often use the raw blended gel, which serves as a nutritious thickener to numerous foods and drinks. It is very common to find it listed as a vegan replacement for gelatin because of its similar nature and consistency.
Irish moss is a natural source of carrageenan, which makes up to about 55% of its volume and is what is responsible for its properties as a gelling medium.