Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that this was my second attempt cooking with carrageen seaweed. I picked it up on holiday when I went to Doolin Caves on the west coast of Ireland (which are amazing by the way), though I subsequently realised Wild Irish Sea Veg is stocked in a lot of places in Ireland, including Dunnes. My first attempt was with a savoury meal as the packet said "goes well with seafood" but it proved a lot trickier to make something edible (or photo friendly!) from than I expected!
Carrageen is a seaweed that for many years small seaside communities in Ireland have gathered from the rocks near their homes, drying and bleaching it and then selling it on as a setting agent. It is cheaper than gelatine and has its own unique, subdued flavor of the sea.
I should also say that I did some research on carrageen whilst preparing this post and my goodness, there are some scary things written about it! Wellness Mama covers it on her blog, which attracts some interesting comments. However most of what I read seemed to relate to the extract, not the raw seaweed itself. Carrageen extract is sometimes added to things like nut milks to thicken them, and can cause stomach irritation. I am rather hoping that using the raw seaweed, and not eating it regularly, doesn't have the same effect. I didn't experience any negative side effects anyway.
So for my second go, and with the advice from the producers themselves, I opted to use the carrageen as a natural gelling agent in these traditionally Irish Orange and Lemon Carrageen Puddings. I was worried it wouldn't set as the recipe suggested it should start to gel quite quickly during the cooking process, but it worked perfectly overnight and has a delicious zingy citrus flavour to it!
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes plus chilling overnight
- 1 cup of carrageen seaweed
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 cups milk, or the soy, rice, or oat milk of your choice
- Juice and zest of one orange
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup
1. In a small bowl or Pyrex cup, add warm water to the carrageen. Allow it to soak for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put the milk into a saucepan and bring it carefully to a simmer. Put aside a teaspoon of the orange zest to use as a garnish: then add the carrageen to the milk, along with the rice malt syrup and rest of the orange and lemon zests, stirring frequently. As the milk and carrageen mixture starts to thicken (the recipe said it would do so pretty quickly, though mine didn't so don't panic!), add the lemon and orange juice.
3. Keep stirring frequently for about the next twenty to twenty-five minutes. Be most careful never to allow the milk to boil, as that will destroy the carrageen's gelling properties.
4. At the end of 20-25 minutes, strain the milk mixture into a jug, discarding the used carrageen and cooked zest, and pour the pudding mixture into dessert bowls.
5. Allow them to set at least overnight before serving. Garnish with the remaining orange zest.