Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to Use Agar Agar in 5 Simple Steps


Agar consists of a mixture of agarose and agaropectin. Agarose, the predominant component of agar, is a linear polymer, made up of the repeating monomeric unit of agarobiose. Agarobiose is a disaccharide made up of D-galactose and 3,6-anhydro-L-galactopyranose. Agaropectin is a heterogeneous mixture of smaller molecules that occur in lesser amounts, and is made up of alternating units of D-galactose and L-galactose heavily modified with acidic side-groups, such as sulfate and pyruvate.


Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. 

Sweetener, flavoring, coloring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into molds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake.

Agar-agar is approximately 80% fiber, so it can serve as an intestinal regulator. Its bulk quality is behind one of the latest fad diets in Asia, the kanten (the Japanese word for agar-agar) diet. Once ingested, kanten triples in size and absorbs water. This results in the consumers feeling more full. This diet has recently received some press coverage in the United States as well. The diet has shown promise in obesity studies.

13 Scientific Tips for the Amateur Cook and Professional Chef

1) Once the agar solution starts to boil, it should be boiled (without foaming) for exactly 20 seconds.

2) The melting temperature of an agar gel is a function of the agar’s concentration and molecular weight.

3) Agar is a gel at room temperature, remaining firm at temperature as high as 65°C. Agar melts at approximately 85°C (358 K, 185 °F), a different temperature from that at which it solidifies, 32-40°C (305-313 K, 90-104 °F). This property is known as hysteresis. Agar is generally resistant to shear forces; however, different agars may have different gel strengths or degrees of stiffness. This property lends a suitable balance between easy melting and good gel stability at relatively high temperatures. Since many scientific applications require incubation at temperatures close to human body temperature (37 °C), agar is more appropriate than other solidifying agents that melt at this temperature, such as gelatin.

4) A good level of agar for use in icings will range from 0.2 to 0.5%.

5) If foaming occurs, disperse it by swirling and stirring for a few minutes.

Related Post: What are the Types of Agar Products?

6) At concentrations of 0.1 to 1.0%, agar is a useful antistaling agent in breads and cakes.

7) Tannic acid (found, e.g., in squash, apple, and prune) may inhibit agar gelation. This can be avoided by adding small quantities of glycerol.

8) Addition of LBG to agar enhances the gel’s elasticity and reduces its brittleness.

9) To avoid hydrolysis of the polymer when the pH is lowered and the temperature is high, keep the gel under these conditions for the shortest time possible. 

10) Around neutral pH, agar is compatible with most other polysaccharide gums and proteins, in the sense that flocculation or marked degradation does not occur when their dispersions are mixed.

11) The same amount of powdered agar agar can be substituted for powdered gelatin in a recipe. One teaspoon of agar agar powder is one tablespoon of flakes.

12) Agar is unique for commercial purposes because it forms firm gels at concentrations as low as 1%.

13) Agar is defined as a strongly gelling hydrocolloid from marine algae.

Now you know more about agar-agar, you should try this tasty recipe... (1) Agar Agar Spaghetti Recipe- Molecular Gastronomy Recipes and

(2) Xìngrén Jelly- Chinese Almond Pudding- Molecular Gastronomy Recipe

Watch related video: How to use Agar Agar: my 5 Rules of Thumb (Diet Recipes)


Armisen, R. and F. Galatas. 1987. Production, properties and uses of agar. In Production and utilization of products from commercial seaweed, ed. D. J. McHugh, 1–57. Rome: FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 288.

Armisen, R. and F. Galatas. 2009. Agar. In Handbook of hydrocolloids, ed. G. O. Phillips and P. A. Williams, 82–107. Oxford, UK: Woodhead Publishing Limited.

Carr, J. M., Sufferling, K., and J. Poppe. 1995. Hydrocolloids and their use in the confectionery industry. Food Technol. 49:41–2, 44.

Laaman, T. R. 2011. Hydrocolloids in food processing. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing & Institute of Food Technologists.

Matsuhashi, T. 1990. Agar. In Food gels, ed. P. Harris, 1–51. London and New York: Elsevier Applied Science.

Meer, W. 1980. Agar. Handbook of water-soluble gums and resins, ed. R. L. Davidson, 7.2–7.14. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nussinovitch, A. 2003. Water soluble polymer applications in foods. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Nussinovitch, A., Corradini, M. G., Normand, M. D., and M. Peleg. 2000. Effect of sucrose on the mechanical and acoustic properties of freeze-dried agar, k-carrageenan and gellan gels. J. Texture Studies 31:205–23.

Nussinovitch, A., Jaffe, N., and M. Gillilov. 2004. Fractal pore-size distribution on freezedried agar-texturized fruit surfaces. Food Hydrocolloids 18:825–35.

Nussinovitch, A., Kopelman, I. J., and S. Mizrahi. 1991. Modeling of the combined effect of fruit pulp, sugar and gum on some mechanical parameters of agar and alginate gels. Lebensm.-Wiss. U.-Technol. 24:513–7.

Nussinovitch, A., Velez-Silvestre, R., and M. Peleg. 1993. Compressive characteristics of freeze-dried agar and alginate gel sponges. Biotechnol. Progr. 9:101–4.

Stanley, N. F. 1995. In Food polysaccharides and their applications, ed. A. M. Stephen, 187–204. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Weiner, G. and A. Nussinovitch. 1994. Succulent, hydrocolloid-based, texturized grapefruit products. Lebensm.-Wiss. u.-Technol. 27:394–9.

Williams, Peter W.; Phillips, Glyn O. 2000. "Chapter 2: Agar". Handbook of hydrocolloids. Cambridge: Woodhead. p. 28. ISBN 1-85573-501-6.

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