It’s not only easy to make sea moss gel, but it also yields several benefits and uses. Irish moss or sea moss gel is a popular ingredient used these days among vegan chefs when making a wide variety of foods, beverages, and desserts.
As an emulsifier, it can literally transform certain foods’ textural quality, helping to trap fats and liquid water-based components.
Based on all-natural, unprocessed seaweed, the gel is an excellent way to increase nutrition yet reduce the number of calories in desserts such as puddings, ice cream, raw cheesecakes, and pastries.
Because sea moss gel jars can be stored for long periods of time in the refrigerator, sometimes several weeks when kept cold, it makes a convenient food to have on hand for blended smoothies, shakes, and other beverages.
Types of sea moss
When making, most people use the whole variety of sea moss or gracilaria, rather than the true “Irish” Chondrus crispus, which are usually sold as dried flake pieces and not as a whole seaweed. We have, however, made this recipe using both types.
Although Chondrus crispus is higher in nutrients, it has a slightly stronger flavor and produces a darker gel that is less desirable for use in recipes.
Gracilaria sea moss is virtually flavorless with a subtle seaweed aroma that is not as noticeable when camouflaged in drinks and desserts.
Basically, it tends to take on the flavors of the foods and condiments used with it. Both types of mixed Irish moss have been widely used in the places where it is grown, such as Jamaica, Ireland, and Scotland.
How to make sea moss gel
Because it’s very mucilaginous when immersed in water, it is not normally eaten like other sea vegetables. Unlike nori, seaweed, or dulse, it has a tough, leathery texture that is largely inedible.
While it is traditionally simmered before pulverizing, today’s recipes often use the raw blended gel to be added to various foods and beverages as a nutritious thickening agent. It is often used as a vegan substitute for gelatin, as it provides a “jelly-like” consistency.
Seaweed needs to be thoroughly rinsed before assembly as there may be some salt, sand, and debris in fresh whole dried varieties.
After soaking, it usually loses much of its color and becomes almost transparent. One cup of moss will expand considerably, almost 4 times its original size.
It is then mixed with water in a high-speed mixer for 1-2 minutes. This slightly warms the moss and usually produces a creamy texture that can be poured, depending on the amount of water integrated.
Sea moss gel recipe
This recipe makes half a quart or more of gel.
- 1 Cup dried whole Irish moss (not soaked)
- 2-3 Cups plain water (used for mixing)
- Rinse 1 cup of the whole powdered sea moss in pure water by soaking for 20 minutes
- Rinse again to remove sand or debris
- Place Irish moss in a quart jar and fill it with pure water
- Soak overnight or at least 8 hours (so it will be easier to mix smoothly) and strain
- Add the moss to a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec) and add enough water to cover it; usually, 2 Cups work well but may vary depending on the sea moss consistency
- Mix until smooth, which may take a few minutes and become cream-colored. It is at this point that it can be poured, but it will solidify when it is cooled
- Pour into a glass jar and place a lid on top
- Store in the refrigerator for use on hand in drinks and recipes
The nutritional benefits of Irish moss gel
Irish moss gel is a “time-released” energizing fuel source, providing long-chain polysaccharides that help deliver food over a longer period of time for slower and sustained nutritional absorption.
Seaweed is also an excellent respiratory tonic, mild laxative, and skin healer that is also useful for strengthening connective tissues and joints.
Source of natural carrageenan
Sea moss gel is a source of the polysaccharide carrageenan, which makes up approximately 55% of its volume. This is the aspect responsible for its properties as a gelling medium.
As a natural form of carrageenan, sea moss has been used for centuries to aid and soothe gastrointestinal problems and inflammation in the body.
However, the seaweed consumed in its whole state is not the same as “carrageenan extract,” a highly processed emulsifier and food additive approved by the FDA for use in the commercial food industry.
Again, when used as a stabilizer in processed foods, carrageenan extract or “gum” has been the subject of intense debate among health-conscious consumers for its studied links to various gastrointestinal disorders, including bowel movement disorders, intestinal ulcerations, and tumor growths.
Buying sea moss / Irish moss
All dried Irish moss seaweed, especially the gracilaria variety, is generally not available in most markets or health food stores. The best way to buy is through online suppliers.
Most are sold in 1lb (16oz) bags that can be stored for long periods of time, providing a quart’s worth of Irish moss gel for many months.
How to use
Again, the gracilaria variety is a trendy ingredient these days in raw dessert recipes because it creates a thick consistency perfect for raw cheesecakes, non-dairy ice creams, sauces, dressings, jams, puddings, and hot sauces.
The blended gel can also be added in miso soup broths along with other seaweeds. Likewise, the whole or dried pieces can be simmered and strained to create a thick papery nutritious soup.
Its skin softening and healing properties offer an excellent facial mask, using the above gel recipe straight from the blender.
Irish moss drink recipe
- 2 ounces Irish moss, washed well to remove salt, sand and grit
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 3 large ice cubes, or about 1/4 cup of cold water
- 2 cups almond milk, or coconut, soy, cow, or sheep milk
- 1/4 cup ground linseed (flaxseed)
- 6 strands isinglass
- 3 pieces gum arabic
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons Jamaican white rum
Blend all the above ingredients until smooth. Mix with ice or serve chilled in your favorite glass.
Excessive amounts of Irish moss may cause loose stools, as it is a mild laxative. It is best to avoid consumption if you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Seek the advice of a health care professional if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking prescription medications, especially anticoagulant drugs.
How Long Does Sea Moss Gel Last?
For optimal storage, please review these guidelines:
- Upon receiving your order, refrigerate as soon as possible.
- If frozen upon delivery, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator and stir before initial use gradually.
- Sea moss can last in its gel form for up to three weeks (in some cases longer); check the label.
- If left un-refrigerated accidentally, it can last up to a few days before it goes bad. *Side note— when it goes bad, it’ll have a rancid smell.
- Always use a clean utensil to maximize freshness.