Variations in chemical and gelling characteristics of hybrid carrageenan extracted from Mastocarpus stellatus seaweeds are studied in order to explore potential links between the seaweeds life phase, the seaweeds postharvest storage duration and the phycocolloids properties. Chemical structures of phycocolloids were assessed by Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and H-1 NMR spectroscopy. Rheological properties of hybrid carrageenans, such as intrinsic viscosity ([eta]), gel elasticity (G(0)), gel setting temperature (T-g) and gel melting temperature (T-m), were measured with a stress rheometer. Seasonal variation in the degree of sulphates of native extracts and in their corresponding gelling properties is found. The minimum in gelling properties coincides with a minimum of fructified gametophytes in populations harvested during the cold season. Alkali treated extracts also show minimum gelling properties during the cold season but no correlation with variations in the chemical characteristics could be identified. The gel setting temperature is the only significant change in the properties of hybrid carrageenans extracted from dried seaweeds stored over 39 months in opaque and sealed plastic bags. These results point to non trivial relationships between the life stages of M. stellatus seaweeds, the chemical structure and gel properties of the alkali-extracted phycocolloids, and suggest a route towards the sustainable exploitation of the natural resource. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.