CategoryThickeners and stabilizers

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients

Agar, or agar agar, is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. In cooking, it is chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Japan.

Characteristics edit

Agar is a carbohydrate-type thickener made of long chains of the sugar galactose. Commercially it is derived primarily from Gelidium amansii, and it creates a strong gel with no flavor.[1]

On average, agar is about 8 times stronger than gelatin, which means it takes 8 times less agar than gelatin to set a product to the same degree.[2][3] Unlike gelatin, agar both sets and melts at a higher temperature—after dissolving in boiling liquid, agar sets at 95°F (35°C) and doesn't melt again until heated to 185°F (85°C).[4][5] This makes it very stable, but it isn't as soft and melt-in-the-mouth, which can sometimes create a "crumbly" texture.[3][6][7]

Acids decrease agar's gelling strength, and more may be needed to make a dish set.[8] Unfortunately, agar doesn't work to stabilize whipped and aerated mixtures, so it can't be used effectively in mousses, marshmallow, etc.[6][7]

Varieties edit

Strands of agar, known as China grass

Agar can come in multiple forms for culinary use. It is most commonly available in powdered or strand form.[9] When in strands, it is often referred to as "China grass".

Use edit

Agar can be used as a laxative, a gelatin substitute, a thickener for soups, in jellies, ice cream, and Japanese desserts such as anmitsu.[1] It can also be used as a clarifying agent in brewing.

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  2. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) (2015-02-25). Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-92865-3.
  3. a b The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) (2012-04-16). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-58780-5.
  4. Zeece, Michael (2020-01-30). Introduction to the Chemistry of Food. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-811726-2.
  5. Gisslen, Wayne (2014-04-15). Professional Cooking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-63672-5.
  6. a b The Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu (2011-12-02). Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking Foundations. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  7. a b Figoni, Paula I. (2010-11-09). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-39267-6.
  8. Editors, Contributors, and Readers of Fine Cooking (2010). How to Squeeze a Lemon: 1,023 Kitchen Tips, Food Fixes, and Handy Techniques. Taunton Press. ISBN 978-1-60085-326-5. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. Gisslen, Wayne (2016-09-21). Professional Baking. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-14844-9.