True Highlands Blog
Cairgein is a brownish seaweed popular in the Outer Hebrides and the English translation is Carrageen.
I was born and brought up in Horisary, North Uist, only a short walk from the sea. Every year as a child I remember the cairgein being collected then dried and bleached outside on a large white sheet. I try each year to collect this seaweed in late summer and prepare it as my mother did before me.
Cairgein is available all year round but has to be collected at low tide so traditionally we would collect it in July and August when the very low spring tides made it easier to find.
Each community on the island would have its favourite spot. I collect mine on flat rocks exposed at the lowest tide of the month on the beautiful promontory of Aird a’ Mhorain in Grenitote, Sollas. Once gathered it is best left out to dry for at least a week, longer if needed. If the weather is too dry, then wet the cairgein a couple of times so that when it dries it takes on a pink/white hue.
Once dried I keep it in a cotton pillowslip in a dark cupboard.
- Take a cup of the dried seaweed in a pan and add a litre of full cream milk.
- Gently bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain through a fine sieve or a muslin cloth into a glass bowl and cool. Don’t worry if little bits of cairgein make their way into the pudding, this adds to the flavour.
- Put in the fridge to set, this will take a couple of hours or you could leave it overnight.
Serve with cream. Delicious!
To make it a bit richer, substitute a little cream during the cooking process. Some people might add sugar or vanilla, cinnamon or strawberries, but I still prefer it the traditional way.Tags: Aird a’ Mhorain, Cairgein Pudding, Grenitote, Home Cooking, Outer Hebrides, Scottish Recipes, Seaweed, Seaweed Pudding