Some believe that food is just a means to survive while some others would absolutely ridicule that idea. As a popular saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! But that holds true not just for men, but every connoisseur of food. Right from the flavour, the taste, the seasoning to the texture, every single detail makes a dish what it is. Even the very appearance of a meal contributes towards teasing our salivary glands as each and every one of us tends to eat with our eyes before we actually taste the meal. Among all the essential criteria that brings a dish its glory, let us touch upon the importance of texture. Texture plays a huge role in bringing out the essence of the dish. There are a variety of ingredients that are used to achieve the perfect texture and one of them is called carrageenan!
Carrageenan is a natural food additive obtained from red edible seaweeds. It is used extensively in the food industry because it has thickening and stabilizing properties. There are three classes of carrageenan called kappa, iota and lambda. The first two are useful in forming gels while the last one helps with thickening.
This additive has excellent emulsifying properties that give rise to textures that range from silky smooth to rich and thick. Mostly used in dairy products, carrageenan is very useful in maintaining chocolate in suspension, thus making it a key ingredient in preparing chocolate milk. It is also used to prevent fractionation of milk products. Scientifically termed as a seaweed polysaccharide, carrageenan has infiltrated almost every dairy product, hence making it a widely used ingredient worldwide.
Being a non-animal product, carrageenan also serves as an excellent example for the perfect vegan ingredient to be adopted. Since it is obtained from seaweed, it has also given a massive boost to seaweed farming, thus contributing to the economy too. As many as 60000 farmers make their living by cultivating seaweed. This is a thriving business especially in developing countries where agriculture still plays a huge role in providing employment to the masses.
There has been a lot of speculation from various sources which condemn carrageenan as a harmful ingredient whose usage should be abolished. This is not only an extremely presumptuous statement, but also unsupported with scientific facts and evidences. Is carrageenan safe? According to the World Health Organization, this naturally obtained ingredient is one of the safest to be consumed.
Many nutritionists and doctors support this stance whole-heartedly. While poligeenan, which is basically a degraded form of carrageenan can be considered as carcinogenic, there is absolutely no trace of cancer-causing tendency in the latter. This fact can be verified from the International Agency for Research on Cancer which has approved of this ingredient.
It is common for unawareness to spread among people especially when it comes to ingredients that aren’t a household name. One tends to become skeptical when the name sounds unfamiliar and this breeds twisted facts which are in fact, completely untrue. Carrageenan is the magical ingredient that will keep your food fresh and give it a wonderful texture. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and use this secret ingredient to give your dishes the edge they need!