Carrageen Moss/Irish Moss (Latin - Chondrus crispus)

 

carrageen or irish moss

Irish moss (carrageen moss/ Chondrus crispus) or mathair an duileasg in Gaelic (meaning mother of dulse), is widely distributed throughout Ireland (where it obtains its common name, Irish moss), and other north Atlantic shorelines. Carrageen moss probably derived its name from a place in Ireland which carries its namesake, Carrageen Head in Co. Donegal.

Irish moss grows on rocks, in rock pools in the lower inter tidal and shallow sub tidal zones. It is attached to the rock bed by means of a holdfast and can grow up to 150 mm in length, Irish moss is dark reddish brown in colour and often appears beautifully iridescent in sunny weather.

During the great famine which devastated mid nineteenth century Ireland, many Irish families who were lucky reside in coastal localities avoided the ravages of starvation by eating Irish moss, dulse and periwinkles (Littorina littorea). After the curative process, i.e. drying and subsequent bleaching, Irish moss was often boiled, from which a highly nutritious jelly was made. This was used in soups, stews, puddings, or it was boiled with milk to form a highly nutritious food supplement (see recipes).

The Irish moss curative process involves washing the herb in sea water, then it is laid out in a thin layer on netting, for a period of one to two weeks, depending on the prevailing whether conditions. Damp foggy whether is required to bleach the Irish moss, followed by dry sunny weather to dry out and cure this seaweed for prolonged storage. No artificial methods are implemented in this process.

There is a wealth of information available about the health promoting and disease prevention properties of this wonderful seaweed (see the health improving benefits on the chemical composition section), and as with dulse, Irish moss is also a nutritional gold mine when ingested whole and/or as a food supplement (see chemical composition), which can be purchased here (see ordering information).