Thanksgiving has been a tradition across America since the 1600s, and the celebrations for the holiday have remained largely the same since then. Most of us enjoy a hearty, sit-down meal with our close friends and family and give thanks for the year we’ve had. Golden roasted turkeys are a staple in most kitchens, complemented with delectable side dishes of gravy and mashed potatoes and desserts of fruit pies and sweet puddings. Pulling off a Thanksgiving meal is no easy task, but thanks to Mother Nature, there may be some ingredients in your meal that are lending a helping hand.

Ice creams, pumpkin pies, soups and gravies all provide us with more than a full stomach — they’ve become comfort on a spoon. These rich flavors and textures come to life through many small additions, possibly a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of salt or maybe an ingredient that you didn’t know was there. Carrageenan is naturally derived from red seaweed and, while it might sound new to you, has been used safely in our foods and drinks for hundreds of years.

Carrageenan is a hydrocolloid, meaning it provides our food products with just the right textures and gives holiday meals the signature indulgence we crave year round. You might find it in your soups and gravies, where carrageenan works with other ingredients to create a perfectly creamy and smooth texture. And as you scoop a bowl of ice cream or take your first bite of pumpkin pie, it could be carrageenan helping to deliver that perfectly velvety, not-too-dense bite. Or if you opt for low-fat versions of your favorite foods, like frozen yogurt, carrageenan helps to create an indulgent product, ensuring that the dessert retains its delectable full-fat feel without leaving you feeling guilty. But the best part about Thanksgiving is also the best part about carrageenan — the leftovers. Carrageenan actually helps some shelf-stable foods last longer without refrigeration, ensuring that you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your holiday grocery list.

This Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family and start preparing all the main dishes and sides that bring you comfort, remember to give thanks for the time-honored ingredients that make any celebratory feast both memorable and lasting.

Visit foodsciencematters.com to learn more about carrageenan and other naturally derived food ingredients that make our food safe, healthier and more nutritious all year round.

Brought to you by our friends at Food Science Matters.

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