Agar

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Agar or Agar Agar is a carbohydrate that comes from dried seaweed and is used as a thickener; originally, agar was imported from Japan, extracted from a red seaweed of the genus Eucheuma. Agar is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, and used for making jellies and gelatin-like desserts, as well as setting ice creams and marshmallows. Also, agar is better than gelatin for desserts with kiwi fruit or pineapple, where gelatin does not set. However, agar tends to have a brittle texture that does not melt in the mouth.

Agar melts at 85 - 90oC (185 - 194oF) and sets at 35 - 43oC (95 - 110oF). In contrast, gelatin melts at 27oC (81oF) and sets at 20oC (68oF).

To use, follow the instructions or:

  • Add 1 - 2 teaspoon per litre of boiling water. This sets as it cools.

Overview of Agar's Characteristics

Category Comments
Applications Bakery, gelling agent, sweets
Rate of hydration Requires heating to 100oC (212oF)
Gel strength Varied
Colour Off white powder
Solubility Hot
pH solubility 4.5 - 9.0
Dosage 0.5 - 2.0%
Temperature range Gel point at 40oC (104oF). Melt back point is 85 - 100oC (185 - 212oF).

Further Reading

  • Dowell, P., Bailey, A. (1980) The Book of Ingredients, Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0718119150.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.