Carrageenan is an extract that is used in food as an additive and is extracted from a sea weed which is most commonly known as the Irish moss. This belongs to the family of linear sulphated Polysaccharides. Irish moss is a plant that is mainly found in the shores of Ireland. These are also available in Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean parts. This will be available in the shores in which the water will be constantly moving. The nutrient in this help the people of Ireland maintain their nutrition level of the body and also had reduced the starvation. It is a rubber like product that is taken from the red algae which belongs from the family of Rhodophycaeae. The harvesting of the sea weed is done mainly in during the period of low tide, which is between the autumn and the spring. These are the most common sea weeds that were mostly used in the ancient period due to its property of gel. The process of extraction is based on some properties of this sea weed. That is due to its solubility in the water and other is its insolubility in the polar organic solvents.
It is mainly used in the food industry for the purpose of thickening, gelling process and also pertain stabilizing properties. It is considered to be a vegetarian and used as a replacement for the gelatine. The arrangement of the molecules gives them the capability of forming the gels in the room temperature. Food additives play an important role in the food that is prepared to make this tasty and also healthy. In the industry of food manufacturing there are many additives available in which the most common one is Carrageenan.
Sea weeds are those which are already famous for its benefits both in the commercial manner and also useful for health also. The same is the case of this, which is extracted from these sea weeds. There are three main forms. They are
Kappa is a form which in the presence of the potassium ions form the gels which are strong and rigid. Iota is another form which is in the form of soft gels in the presence of the calcium ions. Lambda is mainly used to make the dairy products thick. Carrageenan is classified as these three based on the degree of sulphates. The disaccharide that is included in the kappa is one sulphate. Disaccharides in iota are two and that in Lambda is three. The ability of the plant extract in binding the proteins makes this useful for the diary products and the meat. Also this is used in the juices and different infant formulas. It is considered to be a very safe formula to use.