How to Use Gelatin and Agar-Agar
A lot of desserts that call for gelatin or agar-agar need to be prepared carefully. Even a slightest mistake can cost you your whole dessert. Follow these simple tips to ensure success every time.
By Kavitha Iyengar
Cooking with agar-agar
China grass or Agar Agar or Kanten is a sea weed and completely vegetarian. It gives a smooth, glossy finish and many chefs prefer to use it over gelatin. China grass, if used properly sets easily at room temperature. The method of using Agar Agar or Gelatin (which is derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones) may be the same. Agar agar comes in flakes or powders.
Be careful to follow the recipe correctly to get the desired texture. These are some useful tips to cook with agar agar, china grass or kanten:
- They need to be broken into pieces and softened by soaking in cold water for about 10-15 minutes.
- Heat in low flame for them to melt completely. Never heat on a high or even medium flame.
- When you boil agar agar, stir continuously or the flakes/powder will set in the bottom.
- Do not over cook the agar agar mixture as it tends to set while cooking.
- The agar agar mixture has to be added to another hot mixture immediately. Both the mixtures have to be HOT for the agar agar to set properly. If any one of them is cold, then your dessert will not set properly
- In case the agar agar mixture solidifies before you add to another hot mixture, reheat in low flame until it melts again completely and then add it.
Originally Published: January 27, 2012