Agar Powder
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Agar Powder From Barry Farm Foods

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This natural additive is prepared from several species of red algae.  It is a vegetable gelatin, one with high gelling properties, and used by vegetarians because true gelatin is made from calf’s feet.

Agar forms a gel at 88
° F and does not melt below 136°F.  It is unflavored and is rich in iodine and trace minerals.  Agar’s setting properties are stronger than unflavored gelatin and will set at room temperature after an hour.  It is a high protein food and should be refrigerated for storage.

Agar’s gelling ability is affected by high acidity.  More acidic foods like strawberries and citrus may require a higher agar to liquid ratio.  Some foods will prevent gelling. Fresh kiwi is too acidic and pineapple, fresh figs, paw paws, papaya, mango and peaches contain enzymes, which break down the gelling ability of the agar.  Cooked fruit seems to lose this effect.  Chocolate and spinach also prohibit gelling.

The basic Agar Gel recipe is 2 teaspoons of powder to 2 cups of liquid.  Soak the agar in the liquid for about 10-15 min.  Bring to boil and simmer stirring until the agar completely dissolves (about 5 minutes). 

If you are unsure of the setting ability of the gel, you can test it by placing a small amount of the cooked gel on a cold saucer.  It should set within 20-30 seconds.  If not add more agar and re-cook.  If it is too firm, add more liquid and repeat cooking steps.  The beauty of agar is that it can be boiled and re-melted if necessary. 

Agar can also be used as a stabilizer, keeping whipped cream toppings firm and preventing separation.  Add 2 T confectioner sugar and 1 t agar powder to 1 cup of whipping cream that is almost whipped.  Finish whipping until stiff peaks form.

It also aids with your meringue toppings as well.  Beat 3 egg whites with ¼ t cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 5 T sugar, beating until sugar dissolves.  In a small bowl combine1 T sugar, ½ t agar and 1 T boiling water.  Stir mixture well.  Add to egg whites and continue beating until mixture stands in stiff glossy peaks.  Spread on top of pie, sealing the edge of pastry.  Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden.

Some other names assigned to Agar powder are: Japanese gelatin, Japanese isinglass, Chinese gelatin, vegetable gelatin, Chinese isinglass and Angel's hair.  A member of a group of food additive products of gels, thickeners, emulsifiers and jellies.  Agar is commonly available in flakes, powder and bars but the powder version is the only one we currently stock.

A substitute would be un-flavored gelatin but the gelatin is made from animal by-products and unacceptable for vegetarians.

 

RECIPE

WHIPPED CREAM RECIPE:

Ingredients:

1 c whipping cream
2 T confectioners sugar*
1 t agar agar*

Whip whipping cream until almost ready.  Add confectioners sugar and agar agar.  Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.  This cream topping/filling will stay firm and not separate.

*These items are available at www.barryfarm.com