Agar (also known as kanten) is a natural vegetable gelatine derived from a red sea algae. The fronds are exposed to light to remove as much flavour and colour. It is then cooked, the liquid freeze-dried and processed into thin filaments, flakes or powder. Because it has no colour, taste, smell or even calories, agar is versatile in many recipes, where it is used a setting agent for puddings, aspics and to create fluid gels.
To use agar, first dissolve the agar flakes or powder in liquid then bring the liquid to a boil. A general rule is 1 tablespoon agar flakes or 1 teaspoon agar powder to 1 cup liquid. The mixture will set to a firm gel when it is cooled to under 38°C. Once set, the gel will not melt again unless heated to above 85°C, or disrupted mechanically such as with a blender to create a fluid gel. Note that agar does not set well with acidic ingredients.
Medicinally, agar is lubricating and tonic to the gastrointestinal tract.« Back to Glossary Index