No, you don’t. The line on what you ‘have’ to do with sea moss is to keep it in a cool, dark place, and keep it airtight. That way, you’ll have sea moss that will last you around a year before it starts to degenerate and go bad.
Technically speaking, you can keep it in any cool, dark place in an airtight container, but the most assuredly cool (and until you open the door), dark place in your house is probably your refrigerator, which is where the confusion comes over whether you have to refrigerate it or not. You don’t have to – but the best place to keep it in the conditions it needs… is probably the refrigerator, so many people do it without thinking further.
And if you have the space, you honestly might as well keep it in there – if nothing else, it’s getting its needs met, so you can use it for up to a year if you keep it there, and you keep it within sight and mind. A cool, dark closet is technically fine – but will you remember to use it if you put it away somewhere in the dark where you don’t regularly see it?
Once you’re prepared your sea moss gel, it too should be kept in a cool, dark place, with the additional benefit that if you keep it in your refrigerator, you extend its viability significantly. Refrigerated airtight sea moss gel should last up to a month.
Does Irish moss need to be refrigerated?
No, you don’t have to refrigerate your Irish moss – any cool, dark place will do to keep it viable for up to a year, unopened, in an airtight container. Once it’s been opened, your clock to use it is ticking though.
That said, you might as well refrigerate it prior to turning it into Irish moss gel. All the requirements to keep it safely and effectively are met by keeping it refrigerated, and it keeps it front and center in your mind. Hectic week? If your Irish moss is shoved away in a cool, dark closet somewhere, in all likelihood it will do the moss no harm at all – but you might forget it’s there, or remember that you bought some, but not recall which cool, dark place you put it in.
If you keep it in your refrigerator, your moss gets all the cool, damp alone time it needs until you’re ready to turn it into a gel, but you don’t have the chance to forget about it because every time you open the refrigerator, you get the reminder – “Oh yeah, Irish moss gel. Must make that when I get a minute…”
How long can sea moss gel stay out of the fridge?
Sea moss gel should, once made, always be stored for any length of time in the refrigerator. It should be absolutely fine outside the fridge for as long as you need to make preparations with it – whether you’re ingesting it, wearing it, or applying it – but once you’re done with it, it’s in no sense wise to leave it out on the counter, whether or not you leave it uncovered.
Ideally, return what you don’t use to the refrigerator as immediately as is practicable. Think of it as the sea-based version of heavy cream. Kept in the refrigerator, it should last you a while (up to a month in the case of the sea moss gel).
Left out on a counter, how long would it be before you trusted the cream? Uncovered, it would be even less time, because of the potential for bacteria to get into it, but even covered, it really needs the cool and the dark to maintain its stability and usefulness.
The deal is pretty much the same with your sea moss gel. It would probably be fine left on a counter for a while – but it would be more certain to be useful if you returned it to your refrigerator as soon as possible.
Can sea moss gel be shipped?
Sea moss gel can be shipped, but because of its need for a cool, dark environment, it usually has to be certified for cold shipping, and should be refrigerated immediately when it arrives – so for instance, even if you trust that the product has been cold-shipped end to end, if you’re not home when your package arrives, you have to factor in the number of hours between its arrival and your return home.
This is why international shipping of pre-prepared sea moss gel is relatively rare – and relatively expensive. Remember, even refrigerated, you’re talking about a product with a shelf life of around four weeks, so it’s not a product that manufacturers can keep in vast quantities on their refrigerator shelves, preparing to ship to lots of distant countries. At least, it isn’t unless they add preservatives to it, to retard the actions of time and potentially warmer environments.
It’s also why lots of people prefer to buy the dried sea moss – which has a much longer shelf life (up to a year in airtight, cool, dark environments – so it can be kept for a while, waiting to ship), and make their own gel at home, where they know everything that’s going into it.
Can sea moss gel be frozen?
Yes, it can. In fact, freezing is one of the best ways to keep your sea moss gel for longer periods if you’re not going to use the whole batch within the next few weeks.
In a freezer compartment, you can extend the viability of the sea moss gel from its usual 3-4 weeks in a refrigerator up to something more like 2-3 months. Sea moss is also what they call ‘thermo-reversible,’ so whereas with some ingredients if you freeze them, then thaw them, you can’t or shouldn’t re-freeze them, sea moss gel takes temperature in its seaweedy stride, allowing you to safely freeze, thaw, re-freeze, boil if you want to, and refreeze it as many times as you like or need.