Herbal alternative to gelatin: agar in the kitchen
Home cooking and baking are back in vogue. Home-made not only tastes delicious, you also know what's in it. For example, if you want to prepare creams, mousse, pudding, cake icing or jelly yourself, you often need a gelling or thickening agent to make the mass firm. Instead of gelatin, which is mostly made from connective tissue, hides or bones from pigs, vegetarians and vegans in particular like to use agar agar.
This is a vegetable gelling and thickening agent that is obtained from dried red or blue algae. You can get it in well-stocked supermarkets, health food stores and health food stores and it is usually offered as a powder.
However, using agar agar requires some experience. Since the gelling power of this gelling agent is up to ten times higher than that of gelatin, depending on the manufacturer, gelatin cannot be replaced one by one with the herbal product. A rule of thumb: Instead of 6 sheets of gelatin, you need about two thirds of a teaspoon of agar agar. In addition, the gelling strength can vary depending on the product or manufacturer. Therefore, you should definitely follow the preparation instructions on the packaging. And: unlike gelatin, agar agar must be stirred into liquid and in any case boil for a few minutes, otherwise the food will not gel. It only solidifies when it cools down when it has a temperature of around 35 ° C. But then it happens very quickly.
With acidic and very fatty foods, the gelling ability of agar agar can be somewhat weaker. If you want to know whether you have used sufficient gelling agent, you can take a gelling test. Put a tablespoon of the boiled liquid on a flat plate and let it run a little. If it gels on the plate, the entire mass should also solidify. If the gelling sample is negative, you may need to boil more agar with the mass.
This vegetable gelling agent is particularly suitable for dishes that need to be boiled whole, such as jelly or cake icing. With a trick you can also use it for the cream of a cheese cream cake. Depending on the recipe, boil some liquid (e.g. fruit juice) with agar and let it cool down a bit. Then you first carefully stir in the sweetened curd cheese and then the whipped cream. Now fill the mass on the cake base with cake ring and put the cake in the fridge. Incidentally, dishes made with agar-agar harden faster than those prepared with gelatin. Hedda Thielking, resp