Do you need saving from a ratcheting cough? If so, Irish moss, also known as carrageen, is the cure for you
IT’S THE cough that does it. Without the cough – the ratcheting, racking, exhausting, demoralising cough – the swine flu epidemic laying so many people low might be somewhat tolerable. But the cough adds its machine-gun stacatto to top off the misery of it all, the low cur of illness.
So, what do we need when a cough smites us? We need a knight on a white horse to rescue us. And that gallant knight is none other than Irish moss, to give carrageen (chondrus crispus) its most noble title. Irish moss to the rescue.
Carrageen’s medicinal qualities are profound. People take it as a demulcent medicine for coughs and peptic ulcers. It fixes sore throats and chest problems, thanks to acting as both an expectorant and an antiviral – carrageen will shift that damned phlegm.
In east Cork, locals also believed that Irish moss was good for sick calves, and would keep cancer away, and Mrs Beeton used carrageen in recipes in her chapter on “Invalid Cooking”. Those khaki-red fronds are packed with vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine, along with calcium, magnesium and iron, so no wonder they ride over the hill in convoy to vanquish that bronchitis and that chesty cough.
In the old days, when a woman’s priorities in the Irish household were ranked as práta, páiste, feamainn – potatoes, children, seaweed – we took carrageen often, usually as that wobbly, lactic white pudding, carrageen moss pudding.
The pudding may not be fashionable in domestic cooking anymore, but our best chefs all revere it: carrageen moss pudding is a staple of the dessert trolley in Ballymaloe House and as far north as Rathmullan House in Donegal. #irishseaweed #leongormanhaircare