In order to prepare a jellied, jelly or marmalade, traditional European cooking uses gelatin – a thickener of animal origin.
But in the countries of Asia for this purpose agar-agar is used most often – a unique product, the spheres of use of which are very diverse.
Agar-agar – what is it?
It is a thickener of food in the form of powder or shavings of white, and sometimes yellowish color. Dissolved in hot water, after hardening, it acquires a consistency of jelly or thick gel.
Born into the sea
Unusual for our hearing name comes from the Malay language, where "agar" translates as "algae". Indeed, the well-known agar agar in South-East Asia is made from certain species of algae red and brown, which are extracted from the seabed or artificially grown on special plantations.
These heat-loving algae grow in the warm seas of the tropics and subtropics, and many of their species are of nutritional value and have long been used for food, for example, nori, hijiqi, arame.
The properties of the broth of these algae, the inhabitants of the coastal areas of Southeast Asia have known for a long time and used the resulting jelly not only as food, but also as a therapeutic agent.
In European countries, this thickener appeared only in the XIX century, and even then it was used, mainly by biologists, as a breeding ground for the reproduction of bacteria. And popularity as a food product, he acquired relatively recently.
Composition and useful properties
Agar-agar is a product of plant origin with a complex composition. It includes:
- Polysaccharides (agaropectin, agarose and others), which give it the properties of jelly;
- Pyruvic and glucuronic acids;
- Mineral substances, including calcium and iodine;
- A variety of vitamins.
Microelements and vitamins that are part of agar-agar are not only useful, but also necessary for the body. This thickener is an important food additive, its labeling is E 406.
If you compare agar-agar with gelatin, you can find many advantages of this thickener:
- Jelly, cooked on agar-agar, retains its properties longer than gelatin-made, since the agar remains in the form of a dense gel and at a temperature of 40 degrees;
- It is more economical than gelatin, in water its volume increases in 30 times;
- This substance without taste and smell, which is important for cooking;
- Agar-agar is almost transparent, whereas gelatin is unclear;
- Jelly, cooked using a thickener from algae, can be heated to a boil, and then cooled, and it will again take a jelly-like shape. But gelatin does not have this property;
- Zero calorie content can also be considered an advantage in a number of cases;
- Being of plant origin, agar-agar is suitable for cooking lean food.
We suggest you take a break from reading and watch an interesting video about this intriguing product:
From sea to kitchen
Thickener production process
The technology of manufacturing this thickener has not changed for centuries. Of course, now agar-agar is produced in factories with modern equipment, but the main stages remained unchanged:
- Cleaning and washing of algae;
- Alkali treatment;
- Extraction – extraction of gelling agent from solution;
- Filtration of the resulting mixture;
- Drying and grinding.
And here is the recipe for jelly cake "Broken Glass". Very original dessert!
Are you on a diet? Then our site today will play the role of your culinary music, because in this article there are recipes of chicken soufflé. It's dietary, after all. Believe me, this tasty dish will diversify your diet and improve your mood.
Currently, the main countries producing and supplying agar-agar to the world market are Japan, the United States and China. The best product is a Japanese product.
There are two types of this thickener: white and yellowish. White powder is better.
Large packages still have markings from 600 to 900. The larger the number of markings, the higher the quality and the better the gelling properties.
But, unfortunately, there are no such markings on small packages of the product coming to retail. Therefore, when calculating the norm of the powder for making jellies, it should be remembered that one teaspoon of this thickener approximately corresponds to a tablespoon of ordinary gelatin.
It should be noted that this thickener loses its properties if it has expired.
Where is sold such an alternative to gelatin
Now there is no such problem. A valuable product from algae is sold in special diets or in departments for diabetics.
In large supermarkets it can be bought in the departments of spices. In addition, agar-agar is sold through online stores, where a wide variety of different thickener types are offered.
If we talk about the shelf life, then agar-agar is a perishable product. Jelly with it is better to use not later than a day from the moment of preparation.
The shelf life of the powder is indicated on the package, but usually a hermetically sealed packet with a thickener should not be stored for longer than a year, because the substance loses its gelling properties.
Application in everyday life
As already mentioned, the spheres of agar-agar use are quite diverse. Along with cooking and medicine, it can be used for domestic needs, successfully replacing gelatin.
- One of the names of this thickener – "Bengal fishes glue" – speaks for itself. As a glue it can actually be used, at least not for long;
- Apply it and as a plasticizer, that is, a substance that imparts the plasticity of some mixture. For example, in arts and crafts it is added to polymer clay;
- Lifting Agar. According to reviews of cosmeticians, this substance as a means for skin care can replace the session of mesotherapy. It's enough to make a mask of warm jelly every day;
- Agar-agar – a good tool for hair protection, creating a lamination effect.
But still the most effective product from algae is used in folk medicine and cooking. Here the application of this amazing substance has centuries-old traditions.
Therapeutic properties of agar-agar
The health effect of this substance on the body is explained by the presence in it of beneficial minerals, vitamins and a large amount of fiber.
- Fiber is almost not digested and, swelling, cleanses the intestines. Therefore agar-agar provides its normal work and is an effective remedy against constipation;
- This is a good remedy for obesity. The ingestion of foods prepared with this thickener will for a long time give the person the illusion of satiety;
- The use of jelly agar agar restores gastric mucosa and intestines in such diseases as gastritis and enteritis;
- Contained in algae iodine, a good effect on the functioning of the thyroid gland;
- This product is necessary for diabetes, as it reduces the amount of glucose in the blood.
In the struggle for a slender figure, agar-agar is used as a sparing, but effective remedy. It is an environmentally friendly product, which, moreover, is almost completely eliminated from the body.
Prescription for weight loss
Dilute 1 gram of agar-agar in a glass of water and heat, but not to a boil. The temperature should be about 85</s>.
Allow to cool slightly and drink for 15-20 minutes before eating.
This time is necessary for the agar-agar to swell and fill most of the stomach.
It would seem simple in terms of preparation and use of a tool available to almost everyone.
However, you need to consider several points:
- Agar-agar should be taken in a hot form, that is, in a liquid form;
- This thickener dulls the feeling of hunger, but does not reduce the appetite – tasty and attractive-looking food will still cause the need to eat it;
- If the feeling of hunger is quite strong, then it is better to grow agar-agar on fruit juice, chamomile broths or lime-colored;
- It should be borne in mind that agar-agar, especially used on an empty stomach, causes a laxative effect.
In another video, see the recipe for a dietary marshmallow with agar-agar.
Lose weight with taste!
Cooking – this is the field of application of agar-agar, where its properties and qualities are especially bright. No matter how useful this thickener is to health, it was the cook who discovered it.
Confectioners use agar-agar to create sweet desserts: marshmallow, marmalade, souffle, pastille. It is a part of delicious fillings of sweets and fragrant jams.
This amazing algae powder is also used for baking, and for preparing fruit and vegetable canned food, and for making condensed milk and mayonnaise.
The dish with the use of agar-agar is an incredible amount, it is impossible to describe them here. Therefore, as an example, you can offer two interesting recipes.
- 4 pears;
- Spices: cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric;
- Agar-agar powder – 1 tablespoon;
- Water – 100 ml.
- Peel the pears, mash and whip the blender with a mash;
- Add the spices and mix well;
- Pour out the thickener powder into the water and wait for it to swell;
- Boil the solution for 3 minutes;
- Add the pear puree to the hot mixture, pour into silicone molds and put into the refrigerator.
Frozen souffle lay out of the forms on a plate and decorate with fruit.
Milk dessert with chocolate cookies
- Milk – 2 glass;
- Agar-agar – 2 gram;
- Sugar – 3-4 tablespoons;
- Chocolate biscuits – 8 pieces.
- Pour agar-agar with a little water for an hour;
- Crumble the cookies into small crumbs with tolstick or rolling pin;
- Milk with sugar can not be heated to a boil;
- Put the swollen thickener in hot milk and allow to boil;
- Cook for 2-3 minutes until the thickener dissolves completely;
- Remove the mixture from the fire, add the crumbled cookies and pour into the forms;
- Allow to cool and refrigerate.
But in the next video we want to show you the process of preparing colorful marmalade, which will be an excellent treat for tea and will appeal to children:
Can this product do harm?
There are no serious contraindications to the use of this thickener. Rather, it is about the measure of its use.
Given that agar-agar has the property of a mild laxative, too much to consume it is not worth it, since severe diarrhea can begin. Experts believe that 4 gram of this substance is the maximum daily rate.
The composition of agar-agar and its microelements and vitamins make it possible to use it not only in cooking, but also for therapeutic, health-improving purposes, in dietology and cosmetology.
If you are not a fan of reading, then specially for you we have prepared a short video clip about everything that you wanted to know about agar agar:
I was losing weight with the help of agar! The product is natural – fiber. I cooked with him all sorts of desserts based on fruits and juices. This is much more useful than purchased sweets, marmalade, marshmallow. So I myself controlled the amount of sugar, replaced it with honey, and never refused myself a dessert)
And I cooked vegetable jelly, very tasty and beautiful. Spicy broth, favorite boiled vegetables. At work during a snack, everyone was surprised that this is where I'm such a beautiful eater!