Home > Carrageenan, Gelifications, Molecular gastronomy > Molecular Gastronomy – Carrageenan Kappa and Iota

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.

Carregeenan Recipe

Vegetarian Marshmallow

27.5 g Cornsyrup

275g Fine Sugar

2.5g Lactose (milk sugar)

12.95g Water

.5g Versawhip

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.

  1. T Marlow
    December 31, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Is it possible to substitute agar agar for Iota Carrageenan?

  2. January 8, 2011 at 4:04 am

    it is possible to substitute agar for Iota if gelification at high temperatures is your goal. Remember, agar holds gels up to 80°C – about 90°C. If you want hot gels then agar is good. If you want to gel milk and colder foods then Iota is best. Tell me, what are you trying to gel?

  3. Ray Carpenter
    March 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Looking to do something different with foie…..Want to take foie foam and be able to fry it in a deep fryer and be light as air and crunch and melt away like dehydrated whipped meringue…just need alittle help from everyone out their…please let me know what chemicals i would need to get the reaction i need for this dish!!! thank you hope to hear from you soon!!!!

  4. Avi
    April 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Hi there,

    Im looking to make a fruit paper, not rubbery but more like real paper by dehydrating it. What is a good substitute for IOTA?

  5. Rachelle Miller
    June 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’m wondering if it is possible to modify the marshmallow recipe to replace the corn syrup and to also replace/eliminate the milk sugar. Any ideas on how to make those changes, but still obtain the structure that appears in your photo? Thx:)

  6. Tatiana
    April 18, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Hi, very interesting I’d like to know if you have any recipe with chocolate in powder.

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