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.
- 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.
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.
- To make a paste, soak ¼ cup Irish Moss in cold water for at least 3 hours.
- Then rinse your moss in cold water really, really well to get rid of all sand and rocks
- Put your moss in the blender with 1 cup water
- 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
moss paste is completely smooth.
- 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.
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