For decades, the powerhouse Irish Moss drink in Jamaica is praised for its “strongback” and “stamina” benefits. However, the Jamaican sea moss, popularly called “Irish Moss” is loaded with important vitamins. minerals and many health benefits.
While seaweeds are not created equal, you cannot deny their many natural nutrition and health benefits.
I grew up drinking Irish moss as early as in my teen years. However, the pudding-like texture formed after it is refrigerated is my favorite way to enjoy eating.
My next-door neighbor “Granny” often made it and ensured I received a bottle. I recalled her boiling a bunch of root-looking food and seeds. She later strained, sweetened with condensed milk, and flavored with spices to make a delicious drink. In addition, rum was often added as a flavoring agent and as a preservative.
Are Irish Moss and Sea Moss The Same Thing?
Even though their names are used interchangeably, there are differences between Sea Moss and Irish Moss.
Jamaican Sea Moss
Sea Moss (d) is a thick gelatinous root-looking seaweed is found in abundance in the Caribbean sea. The Jamaican sea moss is used to make Jamaica’s most famous Irish moss drink.
Irish moss (c), in comparison, is scientifically known as Chondrus Crispus. It is flat, leafy, and reddish-purple in color.
It gained its name and became popular during the Irish potato famine the 1800s. Consequently, the Irish people had to resort to the sea for food. Their eating of the seaweeds found growing on the rocks in the sea was what coined the term Irish Moss . (Atlantic Gold Sea Moss)
Sea Moss Nutrition Facts
Both gold sea moss and the purplish Irish Moss share similar nutrition contents and health benefits.
According to Medical News Today, sea moss is rich in vitamins and minerals. 2 tablespoons provide 7.2 mg calcium, 14.4 mg magnesium, 15.7 phosphorus, and 1 gram contains 47 mg of Iodine.
Similarly, as with fruits and vegetables, the nutrition content of seaweed will vary based on where it is grown and the condition under which it grows.
In addition, this seaweed also contains: potassium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese. Many companies harvest sea moss to extract a carbohydrate called Carrageenan. It is used as a thickening or stabilization agent in many food products. I have observed it as an ingredient in many of the nut milk sold in many local grocery stores.
Health Benefits of Sea Moss
There are some antioxidant and collagen properties that are said to promote good hair, skin, and nails. Medical News Today also mentioned that sea moss has prebiotics that may help with immunity, Gastrointestinal health, and consequent weight loss. However, more studies need to be conducted to support these health claims.
Let’s Explore 3 Of The Jamaican Irish Moss Ingredients
While there are variations in Irish moss preparation, these 3 ingredients have been a part of Jamaica’s authentic Irish Moss drink recipe for decades. I am not sure of the exact reasons why they are added to the drink. However, they do provide some form of benefits. Here is what I found during my research.
This reminds me of a bunch of loose white plastic twines. Isinglass is a form of gelatin that is made up of collagen proteins.
It is extracted from the bladder of sturgeon fishes. Therefore, if you are Vegan, you may want to omit this ingredient from the recipe.
Many food companies use isinglass as a stabilizing agent for many alcoholic beverages such as wines and beers. The addition of isinglass to these alcoholic beverages helps them remain stabilized for long periods during storage, transport, and temperature changes (Pubmed). I assume for this same reason, this ingredient was added to the Jamaican Irish Moss drink.
Flax Seeds or Linseeds
Apparently, Jamaicans were in on the health craze and saw linseeds as a powerful health food back in the day.
There are many nutrition and health claims on the internet. However, there are a number of published research articles that have backed up some of these claims.
Healthline showcases the top 10 health benefits of flax seeds. In summary, they are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
They are said to lower the risk of cancer due to their lignan content, help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and may benefit people living with Diabetes.
What Is Gum Arabic?
Gum Arabic Health Benefits
These gum crystals are not digested by the body of humans or any animals. However, it is fermented by gastrointestinal bacteria to provide many health benefits such as prebiotic properties that help promote healthy digestive health.
The Nutrition Journal article showed that 4 weeks of supplementation with Gum Arabic helps with lowering blood cholesterol, has shown to have anticarcinogenic and antioxidant effects. In theory, it may also help with weight loss.
Why I love Jamaican Sea Moss Drink
I have been drinking Irish Moss for years. The ingredients and methods of preparation vary across the island of Jamaica and the Caribbean.
I love the versatility of the recipe. However, the authentic Jamaican Irish Moss drink recipe was recently taught to me by mom; the recipe is now being shared with you. Food Explora will also share a simple non-dairy Vegan recipe. This drink is great for the holidays but can also be enjoyed any time of the year.
The Irish moss drink is nutritious and very filling. Writing this blog, sparked a deeper appreciation for the drink and the Jamaican food culture.
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Check out these cool finds on Amazon. Enclosed are links for your shopping convenience. Some of the ingredients were purchased from a local health food store here in Brooklyn NYC. Moreover, I have provided you with the Amazon links in the ingredient section for your shopping convenience.
Mommy's Authentic Jamaican Irish Moss (Sea Moss) Drink Recipe.
Here are all the ingredients You Will Need.
Below are some amazon ingredient links for your shopping convenience.
Jamaican Irish Moss
Flax or Linseeds
You will also love these cooking utensils below. Click on each picture for more details.
Mommy's Authentic Jamaican Irish Moss Sea Moss Drink Recipe
- Large Pot
- Sieve or Strainer
- Wooden Spoon
- 3 Glass Jars (about 24 oz each)
Sea Moss Gel
- 16 oz. Sea Moss
- 1 cup Organic Flax Seed
- ¼ oz. Isinglass
- 2 oz. Organic Gum Arabic
- 16 cups Water
The Jamaican Irish Moss Drink
- 1 cup Irish Moss Gel
- 2 cups 2% Milk
- ¼ cup Condensed Sweetened Milk
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 2 tsp Nutmeg, grated
- 3 tbsp. Bacardi Coconut Rum
Vegan Dairy-Free Irish Moss Drink
- 1 cup Irish Moss Gel (without isinglass)
- 2 cups Almond Milk
- 1 tsp. Grated Nutmeg
- ⅓ cup Honey or Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon Powder
- 2 tbsp. Rum (optional)
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
A Simple Way To Make The Irish Moss Gel
- Sea Moss is harvested from the sea and has a slight sea or fish-like smell. it also comes with salt, sand, and debris. Some sea moss is sold dried. The ones I purchased, was a bit crusted with salt, but still a bit plump. They had to be stored in the refrigerator.
- Soak sea moss in cool tap water. Under cool running water, wash several times until all the salt, sand, and debris are removed. Leave the washed sea moss in water for 1-2 hours or preferably overnight.
- In a large pot bring to boil 16 cups water.
- After soaking, the dried sea moss will double in size and thickness. Drain soaked sea moss and add to the boiling water.
- Add the flax seeds, isinglass, and gum arabic. Some recipes call for bay leaves or cinnamon sticks to be added to the mixture and boiled to flavor the sea moss gel.
- Boil mixture for 45 minutes to 1 hour. As the sea moss mixture boils, most of it will dissolve and the liquid will start to thicken. Use a wooden spoon to stir sea moss gel occasionally.
- Back in the day, most Jamaicans did not own a blender. The contents were strained through a sieve and the gel was sweetened and spices were added to make this delicious drink. My mom follows this same tradition. However, I choose to blend the content of the sea moss gel mixture with the flax seeds.
- Scoop the moss gel mixture into a blender and blend on medium for 1-2 minutes. Pour blended mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to press the gel through the sieve. It is perfectly fine if small fragments of the flax seed pass through.
- Do not discard the flaxseed remains or reside in the sieve. Use a spoon to scoop into zip lock bags and store in the freezer. This will be later added to smoothies for added nutrition value.
- After all the mixture is blended and strained, now it is time to jar the sea moss gel that was collected in the bowl. Gather 3 clean, dry glass jars with lids. Use a ladle to spoon the gel into jars. To prevent spillage and mess, I used a funnel to fill the jars.
- Allow jars to cool down before storing them in the refrigerator. This gel will be used as the base to prepare the Irish moss drink. Traditionally, at this stage of the process, most Jamaicans would add milk, sweeteners, spices, and rum to the warm sea moss gel. The drink is stored in a jug or bottled and then refrigerated. Some people make a living selling these tasty drinks or punch as some may call it. If you are having a family gathering, then making a large batch is ideal. I choose to take the sea moss gel from the jars and make the drink in small portions when needed.
- Sea moss naturally thickens on its own. Moreover adding the flaxseed, gum arabic, and isinglass makes the gel mixture very firm compared to the sea moss gel that is sold in the stores.
Let's Make Jamaican Irish Moss Drink (Dairy Version)
- Measure 1 cup of the sea moss gel and add to a blender. To the gel, add the whole milk, condensed milk, cinnamon powder, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and Bacardi rum. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until creamy smooth. More rum or condensed milk may be added to achieve your desired level of sweetness.
- Serve in a glass over ice or as is. I personally love my irish moss drink very thick. I enjoy eating with a spoon after it is stored in the refrigerator and forms a jello-like consistency.
Prepare The Vegan Sea Moss Drink (non-dairy)
- If you follow a vegan lifestyle or are lactose intolerant, then this recipe is for you. Since Isinglass is made from fish bladder, you may want to eliminate this ingredient from the process if you are Vegan. Sea moss is often called a sea vegetable, gum arabic is harvested from a tree, flax seeds are plant-based. Therefore these ingredients are ok for Vegans to consume.
- In a blender, add 1 cup of sea moss gel, nut milk, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon powder, vanilla extract, and your favorite rum (optional). Blend on medium until smooth and creamy. Serve over ice cubes.
- The main advantage for making and storing the sea moss gel as opposed to making the drink the traditional way is that you can incorporate the sea moss gel into any drink or smoothie recipe. Oat, chia seeds, fruits, or vegetables can be blended to make a delicious smoothie. The sea moss gel can also be added to sauces and stews.
Jamaican Irish Moss Sea Moss Drink.
Jamaican Hominy Corn Porridge.
You are also gonna love this delicious Jamaican Hominy Corn Porridge.