Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hydrocolloids- Iota Carrageenan

Iota Carrageenan is a phycocolloid meaning a hydrocolloid that is derived from seaweed. In this case red seaweed. It is one of three Carrageenans, the others being Kappa and Lambda. Some of the main advantages of using Iota as a thickening or a gelling compound is that it yields more elastic or softer gels, as opposed to one of its brothers Kappa that produces more rigid or brittle gels. When constructing formulas using iota it is important to note that it reacts best with the presence of calcium (ie milk, cream, etc). It is also important to note that gels made using iota have the ability to be frozen and then thawed before use. This makes it possible to make a base and to mold it and freeze it or keep it frozen and to take it out before service, thus prolonging the shelf life of the gel. I have found that there is a wide range of ratios in weight of iota:rest of ingredients that you could use depending on what your desired end result will be. You also have to take into consideration the formula you are using; whether or not your using milk instead of cream or other dairy products (fat concentration), are you using an acid in your base, how much sugar are you going to add, how much salt your going to add. There are many factors that will determine the final outcome of your finished product. I have seen and made gels that eat like cooked custards using a ratio of 1K of base:2-3g of iota (.002-.003). I have also used iota in combination with other stabilizers in ice cream formulas. I have found that by using iota in my base it promotes a creamier mouth feel to the finished frozen dessert. When it comes down to it Iota Carrageenan is a very versatile hydrocolloid, with a vast array of uses in a modern kitchen.


  1. Great Post... Thanks, Rob

  2. What other stailizers do you recommend for dairy ice cream?

    And what ratio do you use? I normally make about 1 liter of ice cream.

    I have Kappa, Iota, Xanthan, Agar and Dried Glucose at home.

  3. Aki, You can use a variety of differest gums for dairy based ice creams. I like to use guar gum a lot in my ice creams. I use about 1% guar gum in relation to the total weight of your base. Xanthan gum also yields a very nice product. Again I would use about 1-2%. If you want to combine gums/hydrocolloids in your bases just be sure take into consideration the percentages. I usually like to use a total of 1-2% total gum/hydrocolloid/stabilizer in all of my ice cream bases. Hope this helps!

  4. Great, thank you!
    I will try to use some xanthan gum next time I make ice cream. I saw one of Alineas ice creams (lime) use dried glucose and xanthan.
    Best of luck at Noma!!

  5. Hi Russel ,just a quick one! would iota gel in a high acidic concentration lemon tart base?
    this is the ratio :
    cream 300g
    lemon juice 150g
    lemon zest of 5 lemons
    sugar 370g
    whole egg 5
    iota ????
    thanks in advance!

  6. Antonio, iota is affected by acid. You may have to increase the percentage of iota in higher PH (acidic) solutions. If it were me I would look towards gelatin and/or eggs in your tart base to stabilize and help set. hope this helps.

    1. You mean in lower pH (acidic) solutions, right? And gelatins are weakened by acidic environements, too, aren't they. I had a really bad experience with a tomato terrine, haha. Your blog is brilliant, though. Thank you.

  7. Yes ,steven thank you (lower pH-acidic) I havent had too much trouble with gelatin in acidic solutions. I have not set anything containing tomato..possibly different enzymes in the tomato that effect the gel strength of the gelatin, hard to say. Thank you for your support!