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Agar Agar - everything you need to know about it



Agar agar has long been used in desserts in other countries (mainly Asia) but it is a novelty in Europe. In Europe, gelatin, which comes from animals (based on collagen - from beef, pork, chicken and fish bones), is mostly used, where agar is a vegetarian substitute because it is made mostly of Gracilaria, seaweed gelatin.


Agar agar which I use in my recipes:

Agar Agar is used not only in the food industry, but also in a wide range of industries - such as the pharmaceutical industry, medical research, also in cosmetics and the like. Because agar is of vegetarian origin, it has become more widely used in our countries and replaces gelatin.


Agar agar or vegetarian gelatin, which is also made from seaweed, but contains carrageenan is used more and more in the recipes for desserts. Carrageenan is though labeled on some websites as having unhealthy effects and causing inflammation, gastrointestinal ulceration and damage to the digestive system, so I will rather stick with Agar agar. Others oppose this.


However, the internet writes that agar agar does not contain calories, sugar, carbohydrates or fats. It has no color or taste. It does not contain soy, corn, gluten, yeast, wheat, starch, milk, eggs and preservatives. It is a good source of fiber, calcium and iron.


Although you can exchange the gelatin in the recipe for agar, the consistency is not exactly the same. Agar is a little more stronger than gelatin, so you would have to cut a little from the recommended amount and replace one teaspoon of gelatin with half or less teaspoons of agar.


I wanted to know from my own experience the difference between gelatin, agar and starch, so we did our own experiment at home with the children. We were very interested to see the difference in the use of other substances and what texture, thickness, taste and color they will have. We wanted to find/figure out the right ingredients for the perfect jelly. We used 100 ml of water with 1 g of gelatin, 1 g of agar, 1 g of starch and 1 g of ground arrowroot. It turned out that the ground arrowroot solidified the water, but it was too fluid and not similar to gelatin. In my opinion, it was a failure. To the next cup we added cornstarch, the jelly was more mushy than gelatin. Probably a little better than ground arrowroot jelly though. The best were jellies from the gelatin and from agar. Gelatin is loose and dissolves in the mouth, where the agar is firm and more crunchy, if you can call it that.

Gelatin and agar jellies had a perfect texture and strength. They were incredibly smooth and hard, but different from each other.


After this experiment, I decided to use agar agar. So I went a step further and did a second experiment: I made it in 3 different cups. All three contained 100ml of water (or juice). The first with 1g of agar, the second with 1.5g of agar and the third with 2g of agar. I learned the difference in consistency from this experiment and I can adapt, make my own recipe after this experiment. I think we need about 1g of agar per 100ml of liquid. If you want thicker / harder gelatin, add more agar. If you use agar with a thicker mass like strawberry or mango puree, use less agar per 100 ml.


Because it is important to have the exact weight of the agar, I recommend using a scale to weight the powder and not a spoon. I recommend that you do similar experiment yourself before you start using agar. Try a few recipes and learn from your own experience. Some acidic fruits like oranges or orange juice, cranberry juice, lime juice or pineapple juice will not solidify as well with agar agar, so you will need to increase the amount of grams of agar to 1.3g per 100ml of liquid.


If you want your jelly to have natural flavors and colors, I recommend using juices such as raspberry, strawberry or blueberry juice or fruit puré. You can add flavors like vanilla, chewing gum and peppermint with sugar or sweeteners. Agar agar dissolves easily and you don't have to soak it before use, but most recipes and instructions for use write that it is better to dissolve it in a little lukewarm or cold water. Never put it directly in the hot liquid, as it will condense and with water or in cold liquid it mixes more easily.


You need to bring the agar to a boiling temperature to activate it and dissolve it properly and stir in the boil for a few minutes (about 2-5 minutes). Agar does not need a low temperature to solidify. It solidifies quickly and at a temperature of about 38-40° C degrees. If you are making fruit gelatin, you can soak the agar agar in water, boil the mixture to dissolve the agar properly, and then add the puree. Or soak the agar thoroughly in water and then add to the puree that you cook together.


One agar agar recipe is Panna Cotta with strawberry puree. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert. It consists of sweetened cream, which is thickened with gelatin, but I used agar agar in this recipe. You can use gelatin leaves, gelatin or vegetarian gelatin. You can also prepare Panna Cotta from other fruits such as mangoes, raspberries, cherries and much more. First I prepared strawberry puree / coulis. Then I reheated it again with the agar dissolved in a little water. This dessert is very easy to prepare, but it looks very tempting and your visitors will definitely like it. Strawberry puree gives this dessert a delicious taste.

STRAWBERRY PUREE:

200g strawberries 30g sugar lemon juice 3g agar agar

PANNA COTTA:

200g cream 200g of milk 30g sugar 4g agar agar


I hope you learned something new in my article. Leave me a comment if you have already worked with agar and what you have prepared from it. Well thank you.


Another great recipe with Agar Agar is Mango Panna Cotta. Simple recipe which will leave your visitors with open mouth. Enjoy.

I also tried to make fruit jelly. This simple recipe with fruit and water with Robinson squash was really interesting experiment.



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