Agar- or Agar-Agar is a vegetarian subsitutute for gelatin. The name is derived from Red Algae.
It is white and semi-translucent made from cooked and pressed seaweed, is available flaked, powdered, or in bars. For best results, grind the agar-agar in a coffee grinder or food processor and then cook it.
Similar to gelatin sheets, the flaked or bar for of agar must be broken into pieces and softened by soaking in cold water for about 10-15 minutes.
I will be using powdered Agar as this is more readily available and easier to use in recipes.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder. So as you can see the powdered form is a more concentrated, powerful gelling agent than the 2 other forms
To set 2 cups of liquid: Use 2 teaspoons of agar-agar powder
Agar does not set at the same temperatures as gelatin, hence people tend to assume it doesn’t work. However, it does if it is handled correctly.
For example, agar agar requires a rapid boil and not a mere simmer in order to activate when added to a recipe requiring heating.
And, agar agar gels at room temperature whereas gelatin requires chilling.
*Highly acidic ingredients, such as lemons, strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits, may require more agar-agar than the recipe calls for. Also, enzymes in fresh mangoes, papaya, and pineapple break down the gelling ability of the agar-agar so that it will not set. Cooking these fruits before adding them to a recipe, however, neutralizes the enzymes so that the agar-agar can set.
- General Instructions for cooking agar:
- Bloom agar powder in hot water for 5 minutes (common ratio for blooming is 2Tbs Water or Liquid : ½ teaspoon agar) set aside for 5 minutes
- Once it has been bloomed bring to a boil & boil for 1 minute to activate
- Add to hot liquid in the recipe