Can you see those bright iridescent tips of the Bushy Rainbow Wrack seaweed below? Maybe you’ve seen this seaweed in a rock pool in Cornwall and couldn’t believe your eyes?! This photo was taken by a friend of mine who was stunned by this shining…
I’ve always loved the taste of Carrageen seaweed, I find it so comforting and soothing, which is just what you need when you’re feeling under the weather – a nourishing, easily digestible, tasty food or drink. Maybe it’s the 14% Irish in me (see note below), or maybe it’s just that carrageen is delicious and good for you.
Coughs and colds can be an inevitable part of the winter (or any time of year in fact), and it is a time to be gentle with yourself (as gentle as the cooked texture of carrageen even) and get a kick-ass remedy that helps you slip through the day more easily.
This has definitely helped me in those times of need.
It has stopped my tickling cough, and incessant cough, you know the type I mean?
Oh by the way, Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus or Mastocarpus stellatus) is another name for Carrageen and the tradition of using this seaweed in Ireland continues to this day, including for coughs, colds and sore throats. This syrup recipe isn’t actually a syrup, you can sweeten it of course, though its thick, syrupy texture comes from the natural thickener created by cooking carrageen.
All you need to make this is a few simple ingredients and choose your preferred flavourings. For example, you could use;
Though I like this kick-ass version with;
- Black pepper corns
- Root ginger
You could look up the benefits of some of these ingredients and make your own choice (or just look in your cupboard and see what you have to hand). Carrageen is one of the seaweeds I cover on my seaweed foraging courses and give you lots of info of how to identify it, seasons to pick and all the nutritional benefits.
I also talk through the process of drying seaweeds and include additional recipes for carrageen in my seaweeed foraging book and offer a fab Carrageen panna cotta recipe in my first book; Wild Food Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. All information that is available to you if you’d like to access it.
Back to the recipe…
Here it is, simple, nourishing and very soothing for a cough, cold or a sore throat.
Carrageen Cough and Cold Syrup
This recipe makes enough for about 4-8 cups worth (depending on the size of your mug or cup). It will keep for up to a week and you can heat a mug at a time to sip through the day. I have 1-2 mugs a day, depending on how severe my cough is and how much relief my body is craving.
- 1200 ml water
- 50 g dried carrageen (Mastocarpus stellatus or Chondrus crispus)
- 2 tsp tumeric powder
- 2.5 cm chunk of root ginger (chopped)
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- Honey to taste.
Place the carrageen seaweed in a suitably sized saucepan and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Add the other ingredients, except the honey, bring to the boil before lowering the heat and simmering for 15 minutes. The seaweed will break down into smaller pieces and the result for a be a thick, syrup like liquid. Sieve and put the syrup aside to cool. Heat as and when needed, adding honey to taste, keeping the remainder in the fridge for up to a week, covered.
Somethings are worth closing your eyes to drink; think of the sea, get cosy and sip slowly. This is in part because this drink wins in taste, though not for looks. Close your eyes, enjoy, get better and drink.
(Mug of carrageen cough and could flavour, sweetened with honey)
Carrageen, Carrageenan, Irish Moss, Chondrus Crispus, Mastocarpus stellatus
I’m standing on a rock at low tide, layers of organic matter below my feet, formed over billions of years. Beyond me is the great ocean herself, perhaps where we all came from and marking a time before our migration, along with (now) terrestrial plants,…
I’m often asked; what seaweed can you eat? What about this stuff (pointing to the piles of spewed up seaweed on the beach that’s been turfed up by the powerful, stormy Winter waves). Hmm, no wonder people are put off eating seaweed.
Not all seaweed is good to eat. Perhaps you’ve heard me say this many a time; pick seaweed that is fresh, cutting it fresh ensures you know how fresh and old it is. The old, decomposing seaweed is good for compost, though not for eating. There is one exception though: After a storm.
Although it is easy to tell decomposing to freshly cut. Personally, I’m still not intimate enough with seaweed to know if seaweed is just freshly broken off by the storm, or has been 2 or 3 days floating at sea. I go by eye, feel and stay on the safe side. In other words, I prefer to harvest seaweed that is attached.
I have many favourite seaweeds (or my favourites keep changing), and one of these is Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima), and yes, it is a combination of sweet and salty. I’ve spent many hours at the lowest tides searching for this seaweed, though mostly, it has alluded me. I know it is there in abundance – plenty times have I seen it washed up on the shore, though often it grows just a little deeper than a low, low tide, and I’m not a diver, not even a snorkeler anymore. Though to my my surprise, it was a storm that brought Sugar Kelp closer and fresher to me.
Can you eat seaweeds that have been washed up after a storm?
Seaweed needs to be attached, through a ‘holdfast’ (seaweed’s equivalent to a root) in order to live. This could be attached to another seaweed, rocks, stones or shells/shellfish. In this case, the storm had thrown up young Sugar Kelp, attached to small stones, so still living – hurray!
Never had foraging Sugar Kelp felt so easy, and the freshness still guaranteed. Walking along the beach, at a medium low tide, I was able to harvest this seaweed and dry it at home for soups and desserts. Below are Apple and Sugar Kelp Turnovers from my Seaweed book . This seaweed has particularly good amounts of magnesium and calcium, and used to be chewed dried by children as salty ‘sweeties’.