from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Any of a group of closely related colloids derived from Irish moss and several other red algae, widely used as a thickening, stabilizing, emulsifying, or suspending agent in industrial, pharmaceutical, and food products.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A food additive made from a purified extract of red seaweed, commonly used as a thickening agent.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. a colloidal material obtained from seaweed or Irish moss, used as an thickening or emulsifying agent and for stabilizing foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a colloidal extract from carrageen seaweed and other red algae
Sorry, no etymologies found.
This filtering, aka fining, is typically performed with fish-bladder isinglass or egg whites, although some companies now choose vegan alternatives such as bentonite clay, silica gel, diatomaceous earth and Irish moss, a seaweed product also known as carrageenan.
But roughly one-third of the fresh chicken sold in the U.S. is "plumped" with water, salt and sometimes a seaweed extract called carrageenan that helps it retain the added water.
The seaweed from Indonesia and other tropical nations is more often a yellowish variety that yields an extract called carrageenan that is used widely by manufacturers as a thickening agent.
Irish Moss is a source of carrageenan, which is commonly used as a thickener and stabilizer  in milk products such as ice cream  and processed foods including lunch meat.
Ben & Jerry's has wackier flavors and uses rBST-free milk from small family dairies, but they add artificial thickeners like guar gum and carrageenan.
The cheese is restructured—heated with ingredients like carrageenan and cooled in a mold—for a gooier texture.
Their ingredient lists aren't especially appealing: Liquid CoffeeMate original flavor, for contains water, corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, sodium aluminosilicate, artificial flavor and carrageenan.
Penn State Creamery ice cream was reasonably good twenty years ago, but everybody else has improved while they changed their recipes to use corn syrup, guar gum, carrageenan, and other stablilizers.
They are better suited for an adventurous cook preparing for a dinner party, especially if the cook has time to go to a gourmet market to find some carrageenan and wakame.
The resulting cookbook, which would be just as at home on a coffee table as a kitchen counter, is over 200 pages of vivid photographs, detailed ingredients lists and even a glossary for those of us who have never heard of carrageenan (it's made from a dried red algae and when softened in water, it will form a jelly).