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Agar Agar loved by vegans

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A vegetarian alternative to gelatine, agar-agar is the jelly that results from boiling several kinds of seaweed together. It’s dried and sold in powder form, flakes or bars and is also used as a stabiliser or thickener in many food products. It is useful if you want to make a jelly using pineapple, kiwi fruit or papaya, as these fruits break down the protein found in gelatine, preventing the jelly from setting.

Agar agar has stronger setting properties than gelatine which requires refrigeration to set. A jelly made with agar agar will set at room temperature after about an hour. It is advisable to store agar jellies in the fridge as it is a high protein food.

How to use Agar:

Like gelatine you must soak agar in cold water but then unlike gelatine you must boil the agar solution for 5 minutes to activate and completely dissolve the carbohydrates. Agar sets at around 38-40°C where as gelatine dissolves completely at 35°C. Agar jellies will become liquid again at 80°C – 90°C. 

Agar has a few advantages over gelatine. Many bacteria can digest and destroy gelatine and turn it into a liquid. Agar is more difficult to digest and only a very few bacteria can destroy agar carbohydrates.

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