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helenjp

Agar Agar

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helenjp   

I just found this Kanten Papa "vegetable gelatine" mix...contains agar-agar plus konnyaku powder, and some other bulking agents. The Japanese page says it has no added sweetener, but the package lists fructose...

http://www.kantenpp.co.jp/products/prd0003...=00002&no=00206

Haven't used it yet, but will try it over the spring vacation to see if it produces a more tender gel than straight agar-agar. It apparently sets at 40 deg.C (100deg. F) so the gel is basically stable at room temp.

The package had some warnings on failure to set with acidic fruits (this is true of agar-agar too) and occasional clotting with milk jellies - need to warm the milk properly first??

I hunted around the net, looking for some information in English. However, a long search simply led me back to eGullet :laugh: where Kris was extolling the virtues of a sesame salad dressing from the Kanten Papa brand. In this case, I think the dressing comes from the Kanten Papa restaurant rather than the parent food company...

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The package had some warnings on failure to set with acidic fruits (this is true of agar-agar too) and occasional clotting with milk jellies - need to warm the milk properly first??

Yes, Agar won't set things with a very high PH like citrus fruits or (apparently) fruits with certain enzymes like Pineapple and it's gel is stable to about 136 degrees - so it will set around 75-88 and won't melt until 136 +. This is sort of well known in a way that some chefs produce "hot gelatin".

Konnyaku contains calcium carbonate (basically the same thing in egg shells) which in combination with the Konnyaku starch produces a much more stable gel - basically you can broil it and it won't melt. Funny that it's been around since like the 6th century.

The first time I ever cooked with it I used it in a hot broth and was amazed - it looks and feels like Jello - but it's very sturdy. (added): I mean I have cooked with prepared, gelled Konnyaku - I've never made a gel with Konnyaku starch.

I've always found heating dairy just below the boiling point produces a much creamier consistency when chilled and I imagine this is true even when using Agar - it's a common trick also to add gelatin to ice cream for texture.

{another edit}: BTW an old science class experiment is to put an egg in a glass of vinegar - after several days it will eat away most of the shell and gelatinize some of the carbonate and the egg will almost be transparent - but still will not break easily. It's really cool - did this in like 5th grade.

{yet another edit} It seems my stated temperatures were off from the "official" 136 degrees - not 138 and 88 degrees - not 78 as well as enzymes are the reason for Pineapple while Acidity is the reason for some citrus fruits - so I updated those things.

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Yes, Agar won't set things with a very high PH like Pineapple and it's gel is stable to about 138 degrees - so it will set around 75-78 and won't melt until 138 +. This is sort of well known in a way that some chefs produce "hot gelatin".

Sizzleteeth--

the way i can buy agar it's in these kind of cloudy-coloured batons. how do you soften it in the water, at what temperature, and how do you blend it with the other ingredients? how much agar sets how much liquid? i'd like to start using agar as i've always found gelatine in sachets problematic in one way or another...

thanks in advance for any answers, and good luck with your annindofu!

:smile:

edit: to remove potentially disrespectuful, although not intended as such, use of the term "dude".


Edited by gus_tatory (log)

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the way i can buy agar it's in these kind of cloudy-coloured batons. how do you soften it in the water, at what temperature, and how do you blend it with the other ingredients? how much agar sets how much liquid?

:smile:

I've never seen the batons - but imagine you want to grind them into powder not put them in any liquid and I have heard of it coming in sheets like some gelatin and even in flakes.

It depends on the acidity of the liquid, the form of the agar and your desired consistency - for a set gelatin using powder - about 1 teaspoon per cup of liquid adjusting 1/4 teaspoon up for more acidic liquid like some fruit juices.

If you simply just wish to "add a little body" to something use it like you would use arrow root powder or some other starch in a gravy - that would vary greatly - I'd say start with 1/8 teaspoon per cup and adjust up as needed.

There is really no blanket policy - it'll take some experimentation.

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I found your "batons" online Gus - some places call them "bars" and yes they are then flaked and not used whole.

In about ten days, all the moisture is gone and the light, flaky bars of pure kanten remain. The crisp, porous, feather-light bars are then shaved into fine flakes and packaged.

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/chefshop/misnkaaagja.html

Even though agar "sets" at room temperature and you don't need to chill it - it is still necessary

to heat the liquid to get a good dissolve and maximize gelling capacity - sort of like some starches only come to full thickening power when brought to a boil.

With flakes it seems you may actually want to let them soak a bit as you suggested above.

{edit} Please let me know how this goes - I'm curious - I might order some flakes.

{another edit} I also just noticed, Gus, that one of the recipes Hiroyuki posted calls for a "stick" of Agar to about 3 1/2 cups of liquid - seems difficult to measure to me especially since the sizes I'm sure are inconsistent from one brand to another - I'd still grind it.

http://users.rcn.com/sue.interport/food/almjelly.html


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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While we’re on the subject – some things I didn’t know:

Agar also will not set some fruit purees because of the enzymes in some fruits like papaya. (I knew papaya enzymes break down protein – so I guess the enzymes are problematic in other ways).

Cooking the fruit puree to break down the enzymes sometimes solves the problem.

Carrageenan requires a certain ion to gel and this is why it is primarily used in dairy products.

Can’t confirm any of that from my own personal experience, but it’s all interesting info to take note of.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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My post about Carrageenan was accidentally lost in the transfer to this thread.

It was:

"Foams" are stabilized with a little Agar and other things like Commercial Whipped Cream are stabilized with another seaweed extract called Carrageenan:

http://sci-toys.com/ingredients/whipped_cream.html

http://sci-toys.com/ingredients/carageenan.html

Hence the reference to the ion above.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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helenjp   

I started digging up my late (first, that is, #2 is made of tougher stuff :smile: )husband's research into agarose (one of the gelling components in agar agar) yesterday, and never got the actual information posted...

what is that stuff anyway???

tech stuff about different kinds of gums and gels

Agarose basically entraps water in a porous mesh of tiny fibers. It's hard to say exactly how much agar you need, because commercial products are made from any of 3 different seaweeds, and they are made to different standards of purity. Also, powdered agar is reputed to produce weaker gels than block agar, with "string" agar somewhere in the middle. Agar gels made using block agar are also reputed to set to a clearer gel...but I don't find modern powders are as cloudy as they used to be. I think the difference is literally that the fibers have been chopped up smaller!

The packet of powdered agar I used recommended 4g per 500ml water. That's a rate just a little under 0.01% - in exact terms, 0.14oz powdered agar will set 17oz water. The pack I made up today produced a firm but not rubbery gel at that rate. You can set up to 600ml of water with that amount of 600ml, but depending on the fluid you are using, you may not get such a reliable set at that concentration.

Using stick/bar/baton agar. Normally a bar is 4g, but sometimes you get extra-long ones which are 8g. They are normally used at the same concentration as powdered agar. However, you normally tear the baton into 2-3 pieces (to fit in your bowl!) and drop it into a bowl of water to soak - up to an hour or two, and you need to weight it a bit. Then wring it out really well, tear the baton into smaller pieces into the liquid you want to gel. Heat (stirring) and proceed as usual. Some people say that you need to strain baton agar, as it is made directly from the seaweed and sometimes contains tiny amounts of insoluble fibrous material.

It's not really possible to produce a "soft" gel with agar - either it is too weak to gel properly, and you get crumbly clumps in watery solution (unlike the custardy consistency of over-dilute gelatin), or else it will appear to gel at first, but will quickly start to "weep" liquid.

It is possible to change the structure of an agarose gel by adding a tiny amount of salt. I think it weakens and softens the gel, but it could be the opposite, I'm sorry, I really don't remember...

Acid fruits and agar gels: touch and go even when you heat the fruit first, and some things like papaya and kiwifruit enzymes are even trickier. Try it and see, anyway - I *have* set kiwifruit in agar, but it doesn't work every time! :smile: You could try doing a home-made thingo by alkalizing the water very slightly, but there's no guarantee that the agar wouldn't set in clumps...

I also made a jelly using the Kanten Papa (agar plus konnyaku powder). That is used at a rate of 10g of powder to 550ml of liquid (coffee, in this case). That's 0.35oz to 19oz. I used 50g (2oz approx) of sugar per 500ml of liquid for both the KPP and the straight agar gel. The gel was a very nice texture, like gelatin, but a little lighter. It was a little bit soft, so I think a rate of 0.35 oz powder to 16-17oz liquid might be better. Then again, I wanted a gel firm enough to keep a shape.

At the same time, I made up a packet of strawberry gelatin, using the same amount of water, to compare setting times. When my kids came home 2 hours later, the agar was set solid, the Kanten Papa was adequately set, and the strawberry gelatin was nowhere near set...the Kanten Papa looks like a great alternative to normal gelatin, since it sets more rapidly.

Later: the strawberry gelatin is set, but not enough to hold a shape when cut. I actually like the Kanten Papa texture better.


Edited by helenjp (log)

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I started digging up my late (first, that is, #2 is made of tougher stuff  :smile: )husband's research into agarose (one of the gelling components in agar agar) yesterday, and never got the actual information posted...

Awesome info Helen - I'm gonna be thinking about this stuff all day - I didn''t get to make my Annindofu just yet so I'm going to experiment this week with a couple of different things.

So detailed!! :biggrin:


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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It's not really possible to produce a "soft" gel with agar - either it is too weak to gel properly, and you get crumbly clumps in watery solution (unlike the custardy consistency of over-dilute gelatin), or else it will appear to gel at first, but will quickly start to "weep" liquid.

I do have a question about this though - I've never made a "pudding" with Agar but there are tons and tons of recipes that call for the use of Agar instead of gelatin in puddings and I know for a fact that Agar is used in many ways as a stabilizer rather than just for setting gels.

What is it that you were attempting to make that turned out like the above?

Would one expect the same consistency to form in a "pudding" made with Agar instead of gelatin

or does the protein (if you use milk for instance) change the molecular equation?

{edit} consitency - is not the same as - consistency and added "for instance"


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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BTW I found a source that makes an Agar powder that they purport does not require boiling to dissolve (if added to cold water first) - gotta get some of this....

TIC PRETESTED¨ Agar RS-100 Power

Specially processed Agar which does not require boiling to hydrate --- 170¡ to 180¡F will allow for complete hydration when added to cold water. If added to directly to 150¡F, will also hydrate. Used to replace 240 bloom gelatin at 1 part Agar RS-100 to every 5 parts of gelatin. Forms perceptible gels with as little as 0.04% concentrations, although typically used at much higher levels. Gels exhibit hysteresis lag useful in many applications. Used in Hot Flat Icings at typically 0.2%. For doughnut glazes, higher levels, typically .5% to 1.0% are used to prevent crystallization of sugar, reducing the tendency of the glaze to chip, crack or "weep". Used in jelly candies, marshmallows from 0.3% to 1.8% to give desired textural effects. Stabilizes meringue mixes. Also used in canned meat, fish and poultry products at 0.5% to 2.0% (based on the weight of the broth). Used to replace gelatin in the fining of wines, juices and vinegars at levels of 0.05% to 0.15%.

http://www.ticgums.com/store/prod_list.asp


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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Wow - this place is awesome - it has an entire online database for suggested applications using

the many different products they sell for emulsions, gels, gums etc.

http://www.ticgums.com/store/prod_info.asp

Even if you can't get this exact stuff through them - this information alone is gold, because you can get the ingredients somewhere.

Many of the "molecular gastronomy" chefs use things of these same types to produce the textures and forms of their cuisine, especially agar, carrageenan, alginate etc.

There's a guy in Chicago that makes "hot ice cream" using carrageenan.

{edit} Actually I just got the TIC dairy additive guide and it's more likely a combination of Guar Gum, Glycerides, Calcium Sulfate and Carrageenan - though obviously having never seen it made I couldn't confirm that. :smile: They sell this combination as "Dairyblend IC EC" and it is described as: "Exhibits a creamy mouth feel with slow meltdown characterisitics".

While these techniques and ingredients may be "new" to fine dining - they are actually very old commercial food processing ingredients and techniques used to make whipped cream, turkey loaf and many of the forms and textures in packaged food that no matter how hard you try you just can't reproduce at home.

I imagine many Japanese wouldn't care much for adding chemically extracted isolated stuff like this to food in home cooking (though I'm sure it exists in many "packaged" products) - but it's all interesting stuff to know and possibly experiment with just for fun.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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helenjp   
What is it that you were attempting to make that turned out like the above?

My late DH#1 and I were running the "Japan Day" snack stall, and he was trying to figure out exactly how little agar he could get away with using :hmmm: !

Puddingy textures are possible, when using something that already has some viscosity, such as custard. However, if I were making something like that, I think I would try a mixed gelling product such as Kanten Papa for a gel with more viscosity - less brittle. It seems that combining certain products in some cases works much better than just one - a kind of 1 +1 = 3 idea. Lots of things work this way with agar, apparently - try googling for things like "agar" or "agarose", hydrocolloid, and synergy...

edit: oops, hydrocolloid not hypercolloid :blush:


Edited by helenjp (log)

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Here is a really interesting (and long) article from 1996 discussing a companies new food

product experiments mentioning the use of many of the things mentioned above including Konjac (Konnyaku) flour, Carrageenan etc.

http://www.foodproductdesign.com/archive/1996/1296DE.html

And another from 1999

http://www.foodproductdesign.com/archive/1999/1099ap.html


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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Another interesting thing to note - seems McDonalds uses Konjac flour in their Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits as well as other alkali treated ingredients in other items as well as Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Chloride etc., in many of the other things they sell.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/app_controller.nu...ents.index.html


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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helenjp   

That foodproductdesign site has a heap of information on it, although technical.

Why don't you do a roll-your-own? Japan has political reasons to favor konnyaku/konjac (as well as a lot of established technology in making konnyaku jellies), but apparently quite a number of things work well with agar - one of those sites mentioned xanthan gum but also remarked that locust bean gum seemed promising and was underused. Looks like most of them are used half/half with agar.

Happy playtime!

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Hiroyuki   

Has anyone checked out this thread?, where maxmillan provided some useful information in post #3:

Here's info from "Healing with Whole Foods", by Paul Pitchford:

1 kanten bar = 1/4 tsp powder = 3 tblsp light flakes = 5 tblsp dark flakes.

1 kanten bar will gel 2 cups liquid.

Uses: Pies, fruit desserts, jams, aspics, and vegetable molds.

Notes: Agar will not set in distilled and wine vinegars or foods with large amounts of oxalic acid (spinach, chocolate, rhubarb.)

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Hiroyuki   

gallery_16375_5_60632.jpg

I made gyunyu kan today. Gyunyu means milk, and gyunyu kan is short for gyunyu kanten. Many Japanese of my age have fond memories of gyunyu kan because it was sometimes served for school lunch and many of us made gyunyu kan in a home economics class.

Webpages related to gyunyu kan:

http://aoyamaschool.com/english/cookingrecipe0407.html

(English)

http://www.aa.alpha-net.ne.jp/honeys/gyunyukan.htm

http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~MiChiYu/gyunyukan.html

(Japanese only)

Tips for success:

1. Dissolve kanten completely by simmering and stirring for two minutes or so before adding sugar.

2. After dissolving sugar, add hot milk.

(I heated milk in the microwave.)

Don't add cold milk.

The recipe in the second link above does not call for heating milk but says to add milk while stirring with a whisk.

***

Ingredients of my version:

1 stick kanten

200 ml water

2 tbsp sugar

400 ml milk

The pack of 2 kanten sticks was 198 yen.


Edited by Hiroyuki (log)

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helenjp   

How did you serve the milk kanten, Hiroyuki? Did you mix anything into the jelly, or serve it in syrup, etc?

Home economics doesn't seem to have exciting things like milk kanten here - my boys have made "meals" like rice, soup, stirfried vegetables, omelet etc!

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Hiroyuki   
How did you serve the milk kanten, Hiroyuki? Did you mix anything into the jelly, or serve it in syrup, etc?

Home economics doesn't seem to have exciting things like milk kanten here - my boys have made "meals" like rice, soup, stirfried vegetables, omelet etc!

I didn't mix anything into the kanten.

I wanted to serve it in individual purin cups or molds, but I don't have any, so I just put the entire bowl in cold water, and after the kanten set, I cut it into eight equal parts. Gyunyu kan goes well with any canned fruit, and I served it with canned pineapple. That was sweet enough for my son and me, but my daughter wanted to make it sweeter, so I poured the pineapple syrup in the can over hers. It still wasn't sweet enough for her, so I sprinkled some sugar on it.

Sorry to hear about the present home economics. Gyunyu kan is the thing of the past? :sad:

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helenjp   

You never know, it might just be my kids' school that sticks to boring stuff like meals for home economics! :smile:

I made a strawerry milk kanten last night to see whether it had the slightly mushy texture which I remembered. It did...

It looks pretty - pieces of strawberry in pastel pink (grenadine syrup) jelly, and my boys will gulp it down this afternoon without a thought. I forgot to sweeten it, because I was doing the dishes at the same time, so I plan to make a strawberry jam syrup to serve it with!

I think the mushy texture must be caused by the fat or calcium content of the milk (chicken stock kanten sets without going mushy, so probably not the protein). It might be interesting to try lowfat milk and see what the texture is like.

Yesterday we made a Philippines gulaman jelly. The texture was very close to gelatine, though the box says "carrageenan". I believe in Philippines food, the word is used as an English translation for agar-agar, but the texture was softer, though it set at room temperature.


Edited by helenjp (log)

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helenjp   

I tried a milk kanten with 1% fat milk yesterday, very slightly sweetened, and with SWEETCORN in it :blink: .

Yes! It was creamier/smoother and less mushy in texture!

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tan319   

Hi, everyone.

I hope you can help me with this.

I ordered some agar from one of my suppliers and they sent me the sheet kind, which I've never used before.

My experience is with the Tiger brand I think it's called.

It comes in cello bags, powdered.

Instead of going thru the hassle of sending this stuff back, do you think I can just process it into a powder, w/o any harm to the product?

thanks in advance for your help, much appreciated.

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