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What is Iota Carrageenan?
A natural hydrocolloid, carrageenan is a natural extract from specific red seaweed species Eucheuma dentilculatum that are farmed and processed. It is what gives these algae flexibility and strength. It consists of carbohydrates and ions of potassium and calcium, which are responsible for its gelling properties. The use of carrageenan has become the most widely used algae extracted additive. Its popularity has significantly contributed to the development of the culture of two species of red algae: Eucheuma denticulatum and Kappaphycus alvarezii.
What Does Iota Carrageenan Do?
It is used as a suspending and emulsifying stablizer, thickener, binder and gelling agent. This iota type is standardised with sucrose. It is not soluble in cold water. A solution of iota carrageenan must therefore be heated to over 60°C (140°F) to allow dissolving. The gelling will take place during cooling period, reacting with the calcium or potassium. Gels produced from the iota carrageenan are soft and flexible, most specially when used with calcium salts. It produces a clear gel that exhibits little syneresis. Iota is a fast setting gel that is thermoreversible as well as freeze and thaw stable.
Why Use Iota Carrageenan in Molecular Gastronomy?
In modern cuisine it is used to create hot foams as well as custards and jellies with a creamy texture. Carrageenan can form multiple gels in a wide range of textures, from very soft to very firm, and from elastic to brittle. These gels can then be served hot or cold.