Kappa & Iota Carrageenan

A traditional alternative to gelatin with some surprising advantages

What is it? Carrageenan is a gelling agent extracted from a type of red seaweed that is now primarily grown in the Philippines but is also native to the north Atlantic coast. It has been used as a culinary ingredient for centuries and is the main ingredient in a traditional Irish milk pudding. Many chefs are now exploring its wide range of uses as an alternative to traditional gelling agents such as gelatin. It is vegetarian and vegan friendly. The two main varieties used for culinary purposes are kappa and iota. Kappa carrageenan is recommended for potassium rich foods and iota carrageenan for calcium rich foods. For highly acidic foods such as lemons, seek an alternative gelling agent such as agar agar.

What does it do? Kappa carrageenan creates a firm gel with a brittle texture while iota produces a softer result. They are suitable for both hot and cold preparations.

How does it work? Carrageenan is a hydrocolloid that works by controlling the structure of water molecules within a food.

How should it be used? Carrageenan should be used at a concentration of between 0.5-2% depending on the required texture of the final result. It can be dissolved into cold preparations but must then be heated to boiling point before being cooled.

Because gels made with carrageenan set between 30-60°C and stay stable up to a temperature of 70-80°C, they can be used to make hot jellies. Gelatin derived from animal collagen melts at just 35°C. Also, unlike gelatin and agar, gels and jellies made with carrageenan are thermo-reversible meaning they can be reheated and reset more than once giving incredible flexibility.

Cream Supplies is the UK’s largest supplier of molecular gastronomy ingredients and tools.

3 Responses to “Kappa & Iota Carrageenan”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Do you have to heat your icecream to a boiling point when iota carageenan is added and then cool or can you just add it to the cream and then freeze it? I would like to know for my own use and does it make you sick if you add too much?? Thank you

  2. Simon Set says:

    Hi. I just wonder why so many people are looking for kappa carrageenan and there is not many recipe that using k.carrageenan as ingredient in bookstore. Do u have any related recipe and info (for example the ratio of it with gelatin) of it?

  3. John Fisher says:

    I have been looking for something that would work reasonably well as a substitute for butter in some recipes that need to harden after they are cooled. I wonder if any of these gels could be modified to serve that purpose without making them unhealthy in the process.


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