Drinks made with Irish Moss, a kind of seaweed associated with Ireland but also found by early Irish immigrants to Jamaica along the island’s ocean and river coastlines, have gained the interest of the public, chiefly on the basis of the health benefits claimed for the ingredient. In the Caribbean, people have been brewing drinks with Irish moss since early Irish immigrants to Jamaica discovered the moss growing there.
Irish moss – its scientific name is Chondrus crispus – is not really a moss, but a type of seaweed. The red, branching seaweed is made of carrageenan, a jelly-like substance that is used in many food products. It can be substituted for gelatin in vegan diets and used as a general emulsifier. It is found in products ranging from ice cream to infant formula and is also included in many popular Caribbean drink recipes. Its properties give the drinks a thick texture as well as a distinctive taste.
Irish Moss is rich in iodine, an important nutrient for thyroid health. It may also provide health benefits to the heart as it is a good plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Irish Moss may help in controlling blood sugar as it contains fucoxanthin, a carotenoid that gives the substance its color. The antioxidants contained in Irish Moss have been cited as helping to fight the free radicals that damage cells and cause them to become cancerous.
The following recipe features cashews, flaxseed, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, which makes it taste quite a bit like eggnog, but does not use milk, which makes it perfect for those avoiding dairy products. The recipe can be enhanced with the addition of rolled oats, peanut butter, or strawberry syrup.
Cashew Irish Moss Recipe
Prep time: 40-45 minutes
- 5 quarts water
- 3/4 pound Irish Moss seaweed
- 4 ounces gum acacia
- 5 ounces of flaxseed
- 4 ounces isinglass (a gelatinous material originating in the stomach of sturgeons)
- 3/4 cups natural honey
- 3/4 pounds sugar
- 4 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons nutmeg powder
- Wash the Irish Moss seaweed thoroughly. The moss can be set to soak in lukewarm water for a few hours to clean it, but this will eliminate some of its gelatinous texture.
- Place the moss in a colander and rinse to remove debris and sand participles. It is ready to use when its color changes from maroon to beige and its weight has doubled from its original dry form.
- Fill a large kettle with the water and set to boil.
- Add the Irish Moss, gum acacia, flaxseed, and isinglass.
- Cook the mixture for 40 to 45 minutes until everything but the Irish Moss has dissolved.
- Strain the liquid, disposing of the Irish Moss.
- Add remaining ingredients to the mixture and taste, adding ingredients that will enhance the flavor to your liking.
- Refrigerate the mixture for four hours.
- Serve cold. A cup of water can be added to the mix if it is too thick.
Photo – Deposit Photos