This delicate sea plant has had a steadfast place in Irish homes and kitchens for many generations. It is still used to relieve sore throats, colds and coughs as it has both antiviral and expectorant properties (it helps to expel phlegm). The pre-soaked carrageen can be boiled in water or milk and strained, before adding honey and ginger as a home remedy for sore throats and chest congestions.
These khaki-red fronds pack a punch with their nutritional capacity, containing all trace elements necessary for humans. Carrageen contains vitamins C, A and B12, potassium, calcium, iron as well as being a great source of protein (Carrageen consists of 11-18% protein). The high levels of Iodine found in it, assists in regulating the metabolism through the thyroid gland, and thus can be used to aid weight loss or gain as well as increasing energy levels. Healthy thyroid function is also essential for children’s growth and brain development. Recent research has found that magnesium, which is contained in carrageen can inhibit the process that leads to high blood pressure.
Carrageen is widely used in many food products due to its emulsifying and gelling properties. It can also be used to thicken foods and is used in many desserts as it produces a colourless jelly-like consistency. Carrageen can be used for puddings, panna cottas, mousses as well as being the vegetarian answer to gelatine.