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What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan refers to any linear sulfated polysaccharide taken from the extracts of red algae. This seaweed derivative is classified mainly as iota, kappa and lambda. It is a common ingredient in many foods.

There are a number of different purposes that it serves including binding, thickening, stabilizing, gelling and emulsifying. Carrageenan can be found in ice cream, salad dressings, cheese, pudding and many more foods. It is often used with dairy products because of its good interaction with milk proteins. Aside from this, Carrageenan also works well with other common kitchen ingredients and offers a smooth texture and taste that blends well and does not affect flavor.

More often than not, this is found in powder form which is hydrated in liquid before being used. For best results Carrageenan powder should be sprinkled in cold liquid and blended well to dissolve, although, it may also be melted directly in hot liquids.

Once it is blended in, cold solutions should then be heated to at least 70ºC or 158Fº to activate the properties of the Carrageenan. Gelling will begin upon cooling down between 60ºC to 30ºC and 140ºF to 86ºF. For solutions using water .2% of Carageenan can be used, while milk based solutions will need .5% of this seaweed extract.