AGAR-AGAR: What is it, Uses and Benefits

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WHAT IS AGAR AGAR?

Agar is a type of vegetable gelatin created from various species of seaweed, which offers many health benefits, in addition to being a great ally for vegans. The handling of this food began hundreds of years ago with the Japanese. Nowadays, it’s still being used by conscious consumers and more. So, let’s get to know a little more about this product, its different uses and benefits for consumption!

Agar-agar is a gelatin that some type of red seaweed contain in their cells. It can be extracted from algae of the genus Gelidium, Gracilaria, Gelidiela and Pterocladia. Currently, this gelatin, also called kanten by japanese, integrates several diets and preparations. See in this article how and why to use agar agar, preferring it to any industrialized gelatin of animal origin.

AGAR COMPOSITION AND NUTRIENTS

Agar doesn’t dissolve in cold water, but in hot water it expands and absorbs up to 20 times its own weight, thus forming a non-fermentable gel.

This gelatin, which is basically a mixture of two polysaccharides, agarose and agaropectin, has many fibers and mineral salts , cellulose, and some proteins.

In addition, it contains high content of cellulose, iodine and phosphorus. It’s worth mentioning that is naturally fat free and has little to none allergenic potential.

It’s also naturally free from starch, soy, corn, gluten, yeast, wheat, milk, egg, dyes and preservatives.

What are the benefits of using agar-agar in food

Agar agar is very rich in fibers and absorbs up to 3 times its volume in water when ingested.  it is not food itself, it has almost no calories, but however, does generates a feeling of satiety and has a laxative effect, crucial qualities for those looking to lose weight.

On the other hand, agar-agar has some practical advantages compared to conventional gelatin, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated to stay firm as well as won’t melt at room temperature.

VEGAN AND ANIMAL CRUELTY FREE

Another great advantage of Agar is the fact that it is a completely vegetable product. Inputs of animal origin do not enter at any point in their manufacture, so vegans and vegetarians will no longer need to deprive themselves of recipes using conventional gelatin – which is mainly made from the remains of bovine protein, and probably involve animal cruelty.

HOW TO USE AGAR

Agar agar is usually sold in powder or flakes, and it’s widely used in the kitchen for its gelling and thickening properties. Helps in the process of transforming liquids into gelatin, without the aid of sugar (as usually required, for example, in the preparation of jams). Agar powder doesn’t have flavor, therefore it can be used for both sweet and savory recipes.

It should always be mixed in a boiling liquid such water, milk, etc.., while the gelation process takes place when the dish you are preparing, therefore, cools down to the room temperature. For 1 liter of liquid you will need about 5 g of its powder. Over time, this gelling agent partially loses its firming power, so it is best to use it within 6 months of purchase. If more time has passed, you can increase the dose of powder in the compound.

Fresh fruit jelly

To make fresh fruit gelatins for my kids, I pour the agar already dissolved in a smaller amount of hot water, then pour it directly on the sliced fruit before blend it all.

I avoid boiling the fruit as it would lose some important nutrients, and this similar process can be also applied to fruit juice. Once the gelatin will incorporate the rest of the liquid, you will need to work fast and pour your preparation before it become too firm.

Agar tea

Agar does not serve only as a gelling ingredient. An interesting alternative is to ingesting it in the form of a detoxifying tea. Drink agar tea, in addition to using it for your recipes,  will result in a better functioning of your intestine, and better absorption of the nutrients you eat

7 GOOD REASONS TO CHOOSE VEGETABLE GELATIN

  1. Its production doesn’t involve animal cruelty
  2. Helps regulate the intestine
  3. Helps losing weight being highly rich of dietary fibers
  4. It is more cost-effective then conventional gelatin
  5. Does not alter the taste of food
  6. Does not melt at room temperature
  7. Versatile, suitable for both sweet and savory

Use in microbiology

Agar is also precious and commonly used in the field of microbiology for the development of bacterial cultures. In microbiology, agar find use as base for solid bacteria cultures because it does not lose its firm structure at the temperature of reproduction. This use allows the identification and isolation of pure bacterial cultures, yeasts and mycelium.

This gelatin find use as growing medium in Petri dishes for clone and grown mushroom mycelium. The production of cultivated edible mushrooms is based on the use of this method, hence on the use of Agar.