IRISH MOSS: BENEFITS & RECIPES

Portion of homemade Vanilla Milk (on rustic wooden background)

Portion of homemade Vanilla Milk (on rustic wooden background)

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 Jamaica 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.

The aquatic plant contains over 90 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential for health and it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It grows on rocks in Jamaica and the nation’s people have used it for centuries as a beverageb and in their unique cuisine. It has a myriad of health benefits and is also used in herbal medicine. It can even reduce the effects of radiation.

1. Bones and Joints
From omega-3 fatty acids and selenium to vitamin K, sea moss contains those and other elements essential for bone and joint health. The components in Irish moss helps build strong bones and is a natural anti-inflammatory for joints.

2. Emotional Health
Magnesium and potassium are trace minerals essential for brain function and they also act as mood boosters that can benefit those experiencing anxiety and depression. Both minerals are available in sea moss and play key roles in biochemical reactions throughout the body.

3. Energy
Vitamin B2 helps break down fats and carbs to produce energy that powers the body, while vitamin B9 is essential for DNA formation. Irish moss has both of those vitamins in abundance.

4. Immunity
Irish moss is plentiful in potassium iodide that dissolves phlegm, making it beneficial for those suffering with colds, allergies and asthma. It also contains amino acids, antioxidants, vitamin C, and natural antimicrobial and antiviral agents that are helpful in fighting infections.

5. Mucus Membranes
Whether it’s in the lungs or the digestive tract, Irish moss helps sooth irritated mucous membranes. Stores of potassium iodide in the plant dissolve phlegm, making it beneficial for those suffering with colds, allergies and asthma. It may also have prebiotic properties that aids in minimizing undesirable bacteria in the gut that can work to enhance the immune system.

6. Skin Conditions
Irish moss is a highly sought ingredient in moisturizers, skin lotions, and burn ointments. It’s beneficial for alleviating symptoms associated with eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. The citrulline-arginine found in sea moss releases compounds that are essential for collagen production and the healing of burns.

7. Thyroid Function
Sea moss contains iodine that’s essential for manufacturing hormones used in the regulation of functions ranging from digestion and metabolism to mood.

Other 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 potatoes”

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 colours.  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 three favorite sources are: My Jamaican homemade, 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 yourmoss 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.

Jamaican Irish moss is used to boost the body when recovering from a serious illness, due to its high content of important nutrients. It has been used to treat bronchitis, goitre, thyroid problems, and to tone and strengthen the body’s glands. It has been described as a demulcent, emollient and nutritive.

Irish migrants to Jamaica brought the tradition of the Irish Moss to Jamaica. … It is one of Jamaica’s most notorious drinks among men (and some women) who seek “vigor”. It is believed “to put lead in your pencil “, “put it back” and boost energy that will lead to an increased libido.

Jamaican Irish Moss Recipe.

Ingredients

  • ¾  lb Irish Moss
  • 3 oz. gum arabic ( known as gum acacia is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree)
  • ¾ cup natural honey or  1 can sweetened condensed milk (use natural honey)
  • ¾  pound sugar
  • 5 oz. isinglass
  • 5 oz. linseed
  • 3 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 qt. water
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered nutmeg

Method

  1. Wash the Irish Moss to remove sand and other matter.
  2. Place the Irish Moss in water overnight. One part Irish moss to two parts water. (Optionally can cook right away however you will have to cook it longer)
  3. Place 5 qt. water in a pot and bring to a boil
  4. Add Irish Moss, gum arabic, isinglass, and linseed.
  5. Cook for ¾ hour until all the ingredients, with the exception of the Irish Moss, has dissolved.
  6. Pour the liquid into a strainer into another container. Throw away the boiled Irish Moss.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients to the liquid and mix well. Boil for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Let the mixture cool and then place in the refrigerator for 5 hours before severing.

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.