Are you looking for a natural substitute for gelatin, or do you follow a vegan diet? Thus, you need to buy Agar-Agar.
Follow along as we go over the aspects you need to consider when shopping for Agar-Agar.
What Is Agar-Agar
Agar-agar is a vegetable protein that is derived from red algae seaweed. It is dried and then sold in powdered, flaked, or strand form after it is extracted. Agar-agar is a semi-translucent white color and has no taste or smell.
Agar-Agar vs. Regular Gelatin
Gelatin is made from animal byproducts. The products are boiled down and crystallized into a powder that is later rehydrated by adding the powder to warm water. When the gelatin is rehydrated, it becomes thick and has an almost elastic appearance.
Agar-Agar is 100 percent plant-based and is derived from red algae seaweed. When you rehydrate Agar-Agar, you must place it in boiling water for it to dissolve. It may also take a few minutes of being in the boiling water before it breaks down. This will depend on what type of Agar-Agar you are using, such as powder, strand, or flakes.
When Agar-Agar is rehydrated, it is an excellent thickening agent. It will be much firmer than regular gelatin and will retain this thickness even if you do not refrigerate the item.
Things To Look For When You Buy Agar-Agar
There are two things that you must look before you buy Agar-Agar:
- You will want to know the type you are purchasing. Some recipes will only work with Agar-Agar powder, while other recipes may call for flakes or strands. Powdered is the most common form of Agar-Agar to use in recipes.
- Make sure that you buy Agar-Agar. While it is uncommon to find blends of this on the shelf, a few brands may be offering a product that is a mixture.
Where To Find Agar-Agar
If you are looking for Agar-Agar at your grocery store, the most common areas that you may find this product is with the baking products. This product is often found near gelatin or sugars. If you do not find it in this area, you can also check the organic food section or the international foods section.
If you are shopping in a health food store or specialty store, you will find Agar-Agar in the baking area near the gelatin and cake mixes. Most specialty health food stores that carry vegan foods may also include Agar-Agar in the vegan food section.
If you are searching for Agar-Agar online, you will find it from a variety of specialty food stores and major retailers. You may also be able to find larger quantities by purchasing Agar-Agar from bulk sellers.
Agar-Agar Powder vs. Agar-Agar Flakes
Agar-Agar powder is the most common form of this thickener to use, followed by flakes. Since there is no difference in what either of these products tastes or smell like, the main difference is how they are prepared.
To make it very simple, the powdered form is more concentrated than the flakes. If you are going to add Agar-Agar to a cup of liquid, you would need to add one tablespoon of flakes to a cup of liquid. However, the same cup of liquid will only require a teaspoon of powder.
The other difference in the types of Agar-Agar is the length of time it takes to prepare. The powder will dissolve faster than flakes, and strands of Agar-Agar take the longest to dissolve.
The best thing for anyone to do is shop around for the best price. On average, a 2-ounce bag at the grocery store will cost around $10.00. However, 2 ounces is a very large bag of this item because the granules are very light.
Online you can find a 4-ounce bag for about the same price from different major retailers. Again, make sure that the product is pure and not made with fillers.
Nutritional Value of Agar-Agar
One of Agar-Agar’s benefits is that it virtually has no caloric value, with most food labs rating it as zero-calorie and one lab rating it as 2 calories per tablespoon. The nutritional benefits, however, are superior.
Agar-Agar is a great source of soluble fiber. It is also a great source of calcium and manganese. Because of the low caloric and high nutritional values, Agar-Agar is a great additive for those who are watching what they eat. This product makes a great thickener for anyone on a vegetarian, vegan, keto, or similar diet.
Things To Remember About Agar-Agar
The most important thing to remember about Agar-Agar is even though it is a thickening agent like gelatin, it does not work the same way. You will need 1/3 of the amount of Agar-Agar in a recipe that you would use with gelatin. You will also need to make sure that it is boiled until dissolved.
Agar-Agar must be boiled to work. It does not require refrigeration to solidify or to stay gelled. Acidy fruits may require a little additional powder in the mixture to get a solid gel, but not too much extra.
It may take a little practice to get the exact firmness you want when cooking with Agar-Agar. Some recipes call for a tablespoon of powder per cup of liquid. However, this usually makes the gel much firmer than people desire. Start with a teaspoon and adjust your measurements based on your preferences.
Agar agar prices can vary depending on the quantity and brand. On average, a 1-ounce package of agar agar powder can cost between $5 to $10.