How to Use Irish Moss as a Thickener


Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is a reddish seaweed that flourishes in tide pools and inlets in the northeastern United States. Irish moss is harvested to produce carrageenan, a gelatinous, tasteless carbohydrate used as a thickener in dairy products, cosmetics and baked goods. Irish moss can be used to thicken soups and milkshakes or to clarify beer. Irish moss was introduced to Rhode Island by Europeans, according to the University of Rhode Island.

Step 1

Wash Irish moss in fresh water. Rinse. Repeat this several times, until the water runs clear.

Step 2

Combine Irish moss and milk in a double boiler to make pudding or a base for ice cream or milk shakes. Use ½ cup Irish moss per qt. of milk.

Step 3

Cook over boiling water for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Step 4

Strain the milk and discard the Irish moss. Add other ingredients such as sugar and flavoring and refrigerate several hours or overnight. For ice cream, cool, then freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions.

Step 5

Boil Irish moss with water or broth as the base for a soup. Boil for 30 minutes, strain and discard the moss. Add meat, vegetables and other soup ingredients and simmer until done.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Double boiler
  • Strainer


  • University of Rhode Island: Irish Moss

Who Can Help

  • Rhode Island Sea Grant: Cooking with Fresh Seaweed
Keywords: carrageegan as a thickener, uses of Irish moss, natural thickener for food

About this Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University. Before turning to freelancing full time, Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.