Agar agar is an odourless, tasteless, sea vegetable used as an alternative to animal derived gelatine. This makes it suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, as well as for people avoiding the use of animal gelatine due to health, ethical, religious, or food safety concerns.
Widely available you can find it mainly in health food stores or Asian food stores, and of course, online. It comes in several forms; bars, flakes, powder or threads.
Follow the instructions provided on the packaging for perfect results, or adapt to personal needs for recipes. Because it is flavourless it can be used in making desserts such as puddings, custards, mousses, fruit aspics and jello, as well as in savoury recipes.
Wheat and gluten free, as long as you buy pure product, it can normally be used as a substitute wherever animal gelatine is listed in a recipe.
Agar Agar is more powerful than gelatine so it will provide a firmer set, and doesn't require refrigeration for setting, though it is recommended.
Rich in minerals, and containing 80% fibre, it can help eliminate toxins and improve digestion, and also creates the sensation of feeling full, which is useful for weightloss applications. However too much will react with the intestines and create a laxative effect, though normal usage should not result in any adverse effects.
Agar gel is also used in petri dishes for growing bacteria... not that your recipes will start to breed a new life form if you use it for cooking.
Typically 1-1 1/2 tbsp is used with 250ml (1 cup) of liquid.
Bring the agar and liquid to the boil, stirring continuously until dissolved, then use as required. It can also be quick set in the refrigerator for jello, aspic etc.
If you have agar flakes, but need powder for a particular recipe, simply grind the flakes into powder and use as required.
Keep in a cool, dark area in an airtight container to maintain its optimal quality.
Typical values per 1 tbsp of agar
Energy - 0kcal
Protein - 0g
Carbohydrate (total) - 1g
Fat (total) - 0g
Dietary fibre - 1g
Sugars - 0g
Sodium - 10mg