Agar is also known as agar agar, kanten or Japanese gelatin. So what is it exactly? I found this unusual ingredient while perusing a health food store and thought I’d give it a try! I was surprised to find out that agar is a combination of sea vegetables that is used as a clear and tasteless alternative to animal-based gelatin. It is often used in Asian cultures to thicken soups and jellies. Other recipes that may use agar for its thickening properties include: pies, puddings, jell-o, marshmallows, custards and more. If you’ve ever taken a science course, agar may sound familiar, that’s because it is used in petri dishes in science labs!
The seaweed used to make agar is harvested in the Pacific Ocean and is then boiled, cooled, purified and dried. After this process, agar can be purchased in the form of a bar, granules, flakes, or powder. Sources say the flakes and powders are easiest to use, but different ratios are required in recipes:
1 TABLESPOON AGAR-AGAR FLAKES = 1/2 TEASPOON AGAR-AGAR POWDER
2 TABLESPOONS FLAKES = 1 TEASPOON POWDER
3 TABLESPOONS FLAKES = 1 1/2 TEASPOON POWDER
4 TABLESPOONS (1/4 CUP) FLAKES = 2 TEASPOONS POWDER
5 TABLESPOONS FLAKES = 2 1/2 TEASPOONS POWDER
1/3 CUP FLAKES = 2 3/4 TEASPOONS POWDER
7 TABLESPOONS FLAKES = 3 1/2 TEASPOONS POWDER
8 TABLESPOONS (1/2 CUP) FLAKES = 4 TEASPOONS POWDER
Nutritionally, agar is low in calories and carbohydrates and contains no sugar and no fat. It is composed of 80% fibre and contains calcium, iodine, phosphorus and iron. If you’re interested in using agar in a recipe, it can be pretty pricey depending on where you buy it. Check out a health food store or Asian grocery store and compare prices!
* apologies for the terrible picture!
source: Eden Foods
- 1 1/4 cups Eden Organic Barley Malt Syrup
- 1/2 cup Edensoy Vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Eden Agar Agar Flakes
- 3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
CRUST: Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add oil and mix until consistency of cornmeal and add EdenBlend. Form into a ball of dough. Roll out the dough, and place in a 9″ pie plate. Crimp edges of the dough with your fingers and trim excess dough.
PECAN FILLING: Place malt, Edensoy, oil and agar flakes in a saucepan. Cook over a low flame, stirring frequently, until the agar dissolves, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn flame to high and cook until mixture foams. Remove from flame, whisk in the vanilla and stir in the pecans. Pour into the pie shell.
TO BAKE: Bake pie for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 1 hour. As it cools the filling will set.
* I cheated and used a store-bought pie crust! Still delicious, but a lot quicker ;)
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