19 October 2010-
Red Algae - Source of Carrageenan
Carrageenan is as food additive that is obtained from algae and seaweed and mostly from red algae that is also called Irish moss. Carrageenan is used as a thickening agent
and a good substitute for animal based thickening agent i.e. gelatin. Milk products like yogurt and chocolate milk have carrageenan.
These are basically a linear sulfated polysaccharides having high molecular weight.
On commercial level there are three classes of carrageenan. These are:
It is a very strong and rigid gel that gels with potassium ions. It also shows reaction with dairy proteins.
It is a soft gel that gels with calcium ions.
This is actually used as thickening agent as it does not form gel.
When carrageenan is used as food additive
it has EU additive E-number E407 or E407a. The later one represent when occurs as "Processed eucheuma seaweed". It is commonly used as an emulsifier
Since ages carrageenan have been produced in China and Ireland but its industrial scale production has started in 1930.
At present Philippines, is the largest producer of carrageenan food additive. In this country seaweeds are produced at a very large scale and accounts for 80% of the total world's production. The most common type of seaweed for carrageenan are Cottonii (Kappaphycus alvarezii, K.striatum) and Spinosum (Eucheuma denticulatum).
You can also make carrageenan at home by boiling Irish moss for 20 to 30 mins. After this let the whole mixture cool down. Remove the moss leaving the gelled substance that can be used as thickening agent.
This is also available in a powdered for in stores. On the other hand it is also sold in its jelled form.
- It is used in desserts, ice creams and milk shakes as a thickening agent.
- It is used in toothpaste to avoid separation of constituents.
- It is also used in air freshener gels.
- As thickener in shampoo and creams.
- Make the shoe polish viscose.
- Carrageenan is used as inactive ingredient in pills and tablets.
- Analgesics is tested with Lambda carrageenan as dilute carrageenan solution when injected subcutaneously leads to swelling and pain.
- Haze-causing proteins in beer are removed with the application of carrageenan.