Irish sea moss (chondrus crispus)
Irish moss carpets many of the intertidal ledges along the coast, and has been collected by hand from small boats for centuries. Traditional recipes were brought to New England from Ireland, where it was commonly boiled in milk to thicken puddings, custards, and ice creams. It also serves as an excellent thickening agent in savory stews and gravy.
In addition to the full complement of trace minerals found in all seaweeds, Irish Moss contains unique anti-viral properties. It has been used internally to treat coughs and chest infections, and topically to relieve shingles and related skin ailments.
Known to the Irish as “Carageen Moss” the word “carrageenan” is now an umbrella term referring to a collection of industrial food additives chemically extracted from multiple species of marine algae for use as thickeners and stabilizers. These words are sometimes used interchangeably, leading to confusion about the difference between the whole seaweed and the processed extracts. Industrial carrageenan products contain little if any nutritional value, and warrant separate treatment and examination from the traditional whole food Chondrus crispus.
“… during the years of the great potato famine, 1846-49, carrageen is said to be one of the three plants that kept many from total starvation, the other two being charlock and nettle.” -The Irish Seaweed Kitchen
Irish Moss Blueberry Pudding
1 cup (10 grams) dried Irish Moss
½ gallon milk or coconut milk
6 TBSP sugar or 4 TBSP maple syrup
Splash of Vanilla
1. Re-hydrate the moss in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 minutes until it is soft and pliable. Massage it with your hands to remove any periwinkle shells or krill trapped in the fronds, and pour the water off.
2. Combine the milk and seaweed in a large pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adding a few TBSP of cold water to the bottom of the pot before adding the milk helps to prevent sticking.
3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring regularly.
4. Strain the mixture through a large strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and return the thickened milk to the pot.
5. Add remaining ingredients and stir over medium heat with a whisk until uniform (3-5 min). Taste the mix and add more chocolate or sugar if necessary.
6. Pour into a bowl or jello/cake mold, and chill until set. It will cool much faster if poured into individual containers, rather than one large bowl. Put the pudding in the fridge or freezer to speed the process, or pre-chill the empty containers.
- Chocolate Pudding- Substitute ¾ cup Baking Chocolate, ½ cup Cocoa and 1-3 TBSP Whiskey or Rum instead of blueberries.
-Blend the chilled pudding for a softer more “mousse” like consistency.
-Freeze the finished pudding for a frozen-yogurt like dessert.
-Brew some of the milk into coffee before boiling with the moss, or add a couple TBSP of instant coffee when adding the cocoa and sugar.
-Replace part or all of the milk with half and half or heavy cream.