While it’s still a newcomer in the US, in Japan agar-agar is an old tradition. As a purely vegetarian and vegan gelling agent, it's increasingly competing with the better known gelatin.
- ...provides B vitamins.Almost all B vitamins (except B12) are abundant in agar-agar. For example, just 2 grams of agar-agar cover the daily requirement of vitamin B2 by about 5 percent and folic acid by as much as 6.6 percent.
- ...is good for the intestine.Agar-agar contains about 70 percent agarose and 30 percent agaropectin. These soluble fibers gently stimulate digestion and promote a healthy intestinal flora.
- ...is a protein show-off.Typical for a product made of algae, 100 grams of agar-agar contain 43 grams of protein. Even the usual preparation quantity of only 2 grams provides 0.9 grams of protein.
- ..supplies a lot of vitamin C.You’d hardly believe the inconspicuous white powder would be found in algae, but the fact is that there’s 157 mg in 100 gram of agar-agar makes it a good immune system defense.
- ...contains important trace elements.Agar-agar in the normally used dose can only contribute a little to our daily requirement of iron, zinc, iodine, copper and other trace elements, but measured by this the quantities are extremely high.
- ...is absolutely vegan.While gelatin is extracted from bones, agar-agar is a super alternative with a purely vegetable composition.
- ...can have a laxative effect.Regular preparation of desserts, creams, etc. with agar-agar is great, but don’t overdo it — eating more than 4 grams per portion could cause diarrhea. However, it’s hard to reach this amount.
What You Should Know About Agar-Agar
The Japanese gelling agent taken from dried red algae has been known since the 17th century.
Aagar-agar, sometimes called "vegetable gelatine," is hardly inferior to gelatine made from animal bones, in terms of gelling power. You only need a little more of it than of conventional gelatine. This is why not only vegetarians and vegans are using agar-agar more and more frequently to prepare creams, jellies and brawn.
Agar-agar is also used more frequently in the food industry for ice creams, jams and sweets. Incidentally, the name agar-agar is not always on the list of ingredients; it is often hidden behind the designation E 406.
How Healthy Is Agar-Agar?
Agar-agar consists mainly of swellable carbohydrates (70 percent agarose and 30 percent agaropectin), so it’s good for digestion. In larger amounts of about 4 grams, agar-agar can have a laxative effect; however, 1 to 2 grams is sufficient for most common dishes that use the vegetable gelling agent.
As a typical algae product, agar-agar has a high protein content. In addition, it contains several B vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin K and a whopping 157 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams.
|Nutritional values of agar-agar per 100 grams|
|Dietary Fiber||2.2 grams|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
You can buy agar-agar in Asian shops as well as in health food stores and organic food stores.
Agar-agar should be stored in a well closed container and dry space, then it will last a long time and retain its gelling properties.
What To Make With Agar-Agar
For agar-agar, it’s best to follow the respective package instructions — the recommended quantities and methods of use vary depending on the manufacturer and product. In order for it to develop its gelling power, it must boil in liquid for 1 to 2 minutes.
Preparation Tips For Agar-Agar
You can easily use agar-agar as a vegetarian alternative to animal gelatine and use it for all sweet and savoury liquids that need to have a firmer consistency. Agar-agar is perfect for jellies, brawn and creams.
Unlike gelatine, vegan agar-agar can also work effortlessly with raw pineapple, kiwi, mango and papaya; its gelling power is not affected by the protein-splitting enzyme contained in these fruits.