Carrageenan is a sulfated polysaccharide extracted from Cottonii and Spinosum seaweeds. Unlike the other seaweed types, the Cottonii and Spinosum seaweeds are relatively pure in their carrageenan content. Cottonii is primarily kappa carrageenan and Spinosum are mostly iota carrageenan. The ability to form strong gels with certain salts and interact strongly with milk proteins are the two essential properties of carrageenan which are useful for many kinds of applications. Carrageenan is mainly used in the food industry with some applications in pharmaceutical and other non-food industries. Currently, there are three types of carrageenan based on their chemical structure and properties, and therefore in their uses.
It is the most used type, essentially known for its high gel strength and strong interaction with milk proteins and the most economical gelling agent in a wide variety of food applications.
It contains sulphate intermediate between Kappa and Lambda carrageenan. Among its strong properties include the ability to form elastic gels with freeze-thaw stability and thermos reversible properties after mechanical destruction.
It has high sulphate content and does not gel in water but it has the ability to interact with proteins to provide a strong stabilization property to a wide range of dairy products. It is mainly used to improve mouthfeel and a creamy sensation to finish products.