What is carrageenan?

Most people read labels at the grocery store before purchasing items, but sometimes the labels list some pretty weird-sounding stuff. Processed foods often require additives to remain fresh. Have you ever read carrageenan on a food label and wondered what it was?

Carrageenan is the name given to a family of linear sulfated food grade polysaccharides derived from red seaweed commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean near Britain, Continental Europe and North America. The seaweed extract has the unique ability to form an almost infinite variety of gels at room temperature, rigid or complaint, tough or tender with high or low melting point.

The gelatin requires no refrigeration and the gels can be made stable through repeated freeze-thaw cycles. Carrageenan solutions will thicken, suspend, and stabilize particulates as well as colloidal dispersions and water/oil emulsions.

Carrageenan is used to stabilize a wide range of dairy and non-dairy products, including Tofutti products.