Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) has been widely consumed as a food staple by Irish people and others living along the Atlantic coastline. Today it is widely valued as an herbal medication and a culinary additive. Irish moss is harvested utilizing boats and nets by the commercial industry, but hand-harvesting moss is the preferred method because it allows the harvester to pick through the seaweed and only focus on the coveted moss. The moss occurs along the North Atlantic coastline. In America, the moss is harvested each spring, but in Ireland the harvest does not take place until the fall months.
Wade out into the water during low tide. After a storm is an ideal time to begin harvest. Wear rubber boots, a life vest and rubber pants.
Look for tidepools. The Irish moss grows at a depth of no more then 30 feet by the low tide marker.
Rake and pull the Irish moss from the water by running the rake through the moss to pull it up and out. Place the moss into buckets. Handheld fishing nets are often used after a storm to scoop up the moss that has washed to shallow areas.
Rinse the Irish moss to remove seawater. Spread the moss out on the ground to dry after harvest takes place. The moss is normally allowed to dry naturally with air circulation by the private harvester for approximately two weeks. Once dried, the moss is soaked in cold freshwater and then placed in boiling freshwater. After boiling, the cooled moss turns into a jellylike substance that is sold commercially for numerous herbal medicinal purposes. The moss jelly is also used as a culinary additive for use in numerous dishes such as stews, soups or prepared into a sweet pudding desert.