Irish Moss: the Hazards – and Benefits – Explained

Irish moss is a type of seaweed. It grows in cold water and is used in raw food recipes for nutrition and thickening properties.  Irish Moss has been used for centuries in Ireland, thought it also grows in Asia and the oceans of North America.  Raw foodists love Irish Moss for its use as a thickener, so it is a great addition to a raw vegan diet.  It carries no color and relatively no taste while providing a lot of fiber, protein, trace minerals and other nutrients.

When you are new to raw food, Irish Moss sounds very exciting.  Because it is!  However, working with Irish Moss requires several steps, and some trial and error.  I worked in raw food for 3 years before I ever started experimenting with it.  Therefore, I recommend Irish Moss only to those with kitchen or raw food experience.  When you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen, put Irish Moss first as a food to play with.

Health Benefits:

  • Has a soothing effect on the mucous membranes throughout the body.  It has a softening effect on the tissues and helps many respiratory problems including bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Soothes the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and also has a mild laxative effect.
  • Contains antioxidants to help fight free radicals
  • Has a large array of ionic minerals.  Iodine being one mineral that supports your thyroid and many problems associated with poor thyroid function including fatigue, inability to tolerate cold, slow heart rate, low metabolism, poor skin and hair, etc.
  • Used externally, it softens and soothes the skin.  Put it on your wrinkles and any dark circles under your eyes!  It also eases sunburn, chapped skin, eczema, psoriasis, and other rashes.

Carrageenan:

There have been health concerns with the food additive “carrageenan gum” which is derived from Irish moss. This additive is found in ice creams, syrups, sauces, and many commercially packaged, highly processed foods.  It is not the same as consuming pure Irish moss.  Yes, carrageenan gum does come from Irish moss.  But carageenan is heated and concentrated Irish Moss that is then highly processed into chemical form.  Carageenan has lost the nutritional value of Irish Moss and makes it a health hazard.

In Your Kitchen:

Irish moss can be used any time you want something smooth, thick or creamy.  That is why it is used in many raw desserts, dips, and sauces.  For example, you can use it in many more ways:

  • Add a smooth consistency to smoothies and juices.
  • Create a mousse like texture in some dessert
  • Create a firm texture in other desserts
  • Reduce the amount of oil in a salad dressing
  • Thicken a sauce
  • Reduce the amount of nuts used in a cheese.
  • Add a thick quality to a cooked soup stock
  • Create a specific texture in dishes such as “mashed ‘notatoes”

As with most foods, especially raw products, the quality and source are important.  You can find Irish moss in many different forms in today’s market place:  powdered, flaked and whole.  It comes in purple, brown and clear colors.  Our research doesn’t definitively that one type is better than the other.

When purchasing your Irish moss, it is hard to tell what is best.  Irish moss grown in Ireland is very high quality.  Powdered Irish moss and sand cured Irish moss probably has been processed and you should likely steer clear from it unless you are in a pinch.  There is now Irish moss flakes on the market (in little purple flakes).  They look very interesting, though not much is known about it’s providence.  It would be certainly easier to work with than having to deal with reconstituting whole Irish Moss.  My two favorite sources are:  Transition Nutritionals brand Irish moss, which can be bought at most Whole Foods Markets, Café Gratitude and the Raw Food World.com.  I also like Kevin Gianni’s Super Nutritious Irish Moss

Getting Start with Irish Moss

Before you work with Irish Moss, you usually need to make it into a paste.

  1. To make a paste, soak ¼ cup Irish Moss in cold water for at least 3 hours.
  2. Then rinse your moss in cold water really, really well to get rid of all sand and rocks
  3. Put your moss in the blender with 1 cup water
  4. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.  In your Vitamix, this might take several minutes and it will heat the gel up slightly.  That is ok.  Chunks of moss will fly up into your carafe.  Push them down and proceed until your

    Irish moss unsoaked, properly soaked, oversoaked.

    moss paste is completely smooth.

  5. Store the paste in fridge in a glass jar for up to 10 days.

Note:  Soak your moss for 3 – 10 hours before making a paste.  You can let the moss soak longer, but it will lose some of its gelling properties and you would have to use more paste in your specific recipe.  If you don’t have time to make the paste after you soak the moss, leave it in the fridge in a jar without water for up to 3-days.


Berry Parfait

Inspired from Café Gratitude

1 ounce Irish moss paste (weight)

1 cup almond milk

Blend ingredients until Irish moss is completely broken down. Then add the following:

3 cups chopped berries

½ cup agave syrup or maple syrup

¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

Blend well until smooth and creamy, then add:

2 tablespoons non GMO soy-lecithin

½ cup coconut oil

Resume blending until lecithin and oil are fully incorporated.  Pour into parfait glass or any other serving glass.  Set in fridge for 30-45 minutes.  Garnish with berries.

by Krissa Schwartz & Heather Haxo Phillips

13 Comments

  1. Posted May 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Will irish moss get you high? and yes this is a serious question. Please let me Know in an email here soon. Will be waiting on ya’ll. Thank you

  2. Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting question! I have never heard of anyone getting stoned from Irish Moss. I think it is very unlikely.

  3. Elena
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    i bought Irish moss from health store in UK and I prepared a milk pudding with soy milk/vanilla and it was really disappointing- my puddling has a wonderful texture and some unpleasant “fishy” taste.
    What i made wrong? Is it’s possible to camouflage this taste ?

  4. Kathy
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    After making the irish moss into a gel blending it up into the mixer. How much should you take per serving like in a smoothe? How about just take a table spoon or two straight not in no smoothe or receipe?

  5. Posted March 26, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It depends on how big your smoothie is. A tablespoon or two in a quart of smoothie would be great. You can eat it straight if you want, doesn’t taste delicious though.

  6. Posted March 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    You did it exactly right. Irish moss is seaweed, and does taste fishy. Use as small amount as you can to get your desired texture. With less seaweed, you will have so little fishy taste you won’t notice it. Play with the amounts of the other ingredients, sometimes amping them up will over the taste too. good luck!

  7. Posted May 22, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Question: I just started using Irish Moss and I was wondering, can a person consume to much at one time? I am low on Iron and my sister is low on Iodine levels so I was putting 1/4 a cup in a smoothie. Do you have any recipes for smoothies with Irish Moss?

    Answer: I think you would likely get sick of eating Irish Moss before it made you sick. I don’t know whether Irish Moss will help you with your iron. Cafe Gratitude’s two cookbooks have great recipes for Irish Moss. I also recommend you start with adding it to your raw soups, smoothies and shakes. Good luck!

  8. John
    Posted July 17, 2012 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    To get rid of that fishy smell, the Irish moss have to be soaked in water with lemon juice over night and then rinse real good.

  9. Paulette
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    How many servings for this recipe?-does not say

    How necessary is the coconut oil and should it be lqiquefied before adding?

  10. Raj
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    hi.. first of all thanks for telling me how to make irish moss… i am trying to loose weight, and i heard that irsh moss help in increasing metabolism and helps in weight loss. could u please tell me about this and also that how much i need to take it and how many times a day..
    many thanks .. friendsdmk@yahoo.com

  11. Posted September 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I am not a nutritionist and cannot make specific health recommendations like this, sorry. Irish moss can be a helpful addition to your diet, though I don’t anything about whether it has weight-loss properties per say. I think Irish Moss would be one aspect of a varied diet that includes green smoothies, kale salads and other nutrition dense and calorie light foods.

  12. Posted September 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Coconut oil is not necessary. There is no serving size because you don’t usually use Irish Moss alone, but inside another recipe.

  13. Cindy
    Posted January 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I just started on Iris Moss,I played around with it and put about 1/2 cup of the soaked solution in my smoothie.The result was incredible-lots of clearing from the lungs like I took an expectorant and warded off a brewing cold.So experiment with it.

    Good luck!

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Raw Bay Area  •  2930 Domingo Avenue #122 Berkeley, CA 94705  •  (510) 334-8424
Eating raw vegetarian in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.