Molecular Gastronomy – Carrageenan Kappa and Iota
I’m back with some awesome molecular gastronomy adventures. Today I want to take you into the world of the Carrageenan. What are carrageenans? They are composed of a linear polysaccharide made up of galactose units with sulfur side groups. The origin of carrageenans are red seaweeds. There are several types of carrageenans such as, kappa, iota, and lambda. I’m going to focus on Kappa and Iota carrageenan for this post and share an awesome molecular gastronomy recipe.
A short introduction to Carrageenans:
Natural Carrageenans occur in a mixture of kappa, iota, and lambda types. Note that manufactures desperately try to separate the various types as best as they could, nevertheless; total separation is impossible. Carrageenans also vary from mixture to mixture, therefore; they are standardized for a particular application. Note: when specifying for a carrageenan make sure to tell the manufacture whether you will be using it for water based system or milk based system. Carrageenans are most often used in milk based applications due to the fact that are effective at very low concentrations. For example, gels can form at .3% in milk.
The Kappa and iota carrageenan can be mixed to obtain intermediate textures. Kappa carrageenan shows a great combination with the thickener locust bean gum. By combining these two together you get a stronger, less brittle, more cohesive, and less prone to break. I’ve found that the strongest and best ration is 6 parts kappa carrageenan to 4 parts LBG. Kappa-LBG mixes are often used to substitute for gelatin and make for a great vegan friendly dish.
You use Kappa carrageenan by dispersing it in water or milkl under shear and heat until completely dissolved (usually above 60C). Kappa-LBG mixes need to be brought almost to boil to become fully functional, but will set and re-melt at lower temperatures. Solutions up to 3% can be made using cold water dispersion. Solutions up to 8% can be made if the carregeenan is dissolved directly into very hot water under high shear.
Typical usage is .75% to 1% in water, and .35% to .5% in milk.
Kappa Carrageenan is used mostly to gel mixtures – it is the most like agar in behavior. The gel type is thermo-reversible with a texture that is firm, strong, and brittle. Gel temperature increases with ion concentration, with values ranging from 40C – 70C. The setting factor is very fast with a PH tolerance down to pH 3.6 if boiled, lower is not over heated. Moreover, the kappa carrageenan is not freezer stable and has an ion sensitivity when potassium salts are not present. Kappa also forms gels at very low concentrations with milk and the flavor release is good.
Iota Carrageenan is used mostly to gel mixtures – it is more rubbery in texture. The gel type is thermo-reversible with an elastic and cohesive texture. The gel temperature increases with ion concentration, with values ranging from 40C – 70C, and has a fast setting time. Iota is freezer stable and has an ion sensitivity in the presence of calcium or potassium. Once you shear Iota a gel will form and be loaded with a flavorful release. Moreover, iota forms gels at very low concentrations with milk.
27.5 g Cornsyrup
275g Fine Sugar
2.5g Lactose (milk sugar)
28g Hi Fructose Corn Syrup
1g Genutine x-9303 Carrageenan
Combine in mixer with mixing attachment and mix until you get fluff. Next pour into marshmallow molds (or ice molds) and allow to set. Once set, powder in confectioners sugar and serve.
Enjoy your explorations with the Carrageenan and look for more molecular gastronomy recipe posts coming soon.