All About Lambda Carrageenan

Carrageenan is one of the most popular additives there is to food. Given this, it’s not uncommon to find so many researches which aim to explain the characteristics there is to carrageenan, and what makes it a popular ingredient in food and in many other substances. Carrageenan side effects is one of the topics which has also been discussed, but most of the research materials which particularly deal with carrageenan include the three different types of carrageenan, specifically Kappa, Iota, and Lambda.

Despite all three being classified as carrageenan, they too have unique properties with respect to each other, and each one is worth having an in-depth view of. Lambda Carrageenan is one of the three major types, which will be talked about on this article.

What makes Lambda Carrageenan Different?

In terms of its chemical structure, it is a naturally occurring hydrocolloid, which is obtained by processing a type of red seaweed which is specially obtained in the North Atlantic. This is a complex type of sugar, a polysaccharide, specifically which has molecules that consist of three sulphur atoms combined with a single disaccharide molecule. This particular molecular structure of Lambda Carrageenan makes it non prone to gelling, which is exhibited by the other two carrageenan types, specifically iota and kappa. The reason why it does not solidify or gel is simply because the Lambda carrageenan molecules are well capable of flexing itself in helical structures.


What is it used for?

If you like the creamy mouth feel which is often found in milk, and if you find yourself tasting the exact same thing when drinking non-dairy alternatives to it, such as soymilk and almond milk, this is due to the presence of carrageenan. The reason why you’re able to feel it is because Iota Carrageenan has a melting point with similar temperatures as that of inside your mouth. It gives a “body” to liquid products which makes it more visually attractive and palatable. Also, given this unique property, it could also be purchased in supply shops and be used as an additive to certain recipes you yourself could make in the comfort of your own home.

Where is it found?

Given that it does not gel nor solidify, Lambda carrageenan, therefore, is found in a lot of liquid products. Apart from both the non-dairy alternatives to milk and the commercially available powdered variety, it is also used commonly as an ingredient in eggnogs, egg-white hollandaise, non-dairy gelato and ice cream, and sherbet.


Where does it come from?

The extraction of Lambda carrageenan is identical to other methods of carrageenan extraction for other types. The most common species from which it is extracted include E. Cottonii and E. Spinosum, which are harvested from the seas, and then cleaned, dried, undergoes a grinding process, gets sifted, and then washed clean again. Alkali, such as KCl are then used to break down the cellulose to extract the carrageenan, and then made into a concentrate using either distillation or evaporation.

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