Veggieosity time! A while back I bought this little bottle of agar- which is a vegan version of gelatin- and have been wanting to try it out in something. The other day I decided, what the heck, let's play in the kitchen. Citrus "jello jigglers" of sorts.... doesn't that sound good?
Don't they look refreshing?
Well, let's just stop there. Consider this a science experiment, because these things tasted like crap. Or, more accurately: like algae. Well duh. That's what agar is. (And yeah, remember petri dishes from science? That what this is).
All I did was mix the agar with water (2 Tbsp+ 2 cups, as per package instructions) with a tiny bit extra agar (bc acidic fruits can affect the gelling ability of agar), and then added some fresh orange or lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract, plus some cinnamon and a mandarin orange slice in the orange ones. (I also played around by adding some cherries to some). Sidenote on jelling: if the agar doesn't seem to be setting you can always re-melt it and add more agar.
For some reason I thought that agar mixed with water wouldn't really have any taste- kinda like jello itself, but before all the dyes and sugars are added in.
Then I realized: I hadn't ever had jello before all the dyes and sugars are added in. Who knows what ground up animal bones taste like mixed with water. Shudder.
In any case, here's what NOT to do with agar: don't just plain old mix it with water and expect it to be a flavorless base that won't overwhelm more subtle flavors. Agar+water by itself does not taste good. There, now we all know.
If you're using a new ingredient for the first time, it's probably best to start with a recipe. (These went straight in the trash, right after my husband made fun of me for doing a post on something that tastes bad).
|Don't eat me!|
Agar (also called agar agar- the algae so nice they named it twice?!- or Japanese gelatin) can be used as a thickener, so in addition to just plain 'ole jello (or, errrr, NOT plain Jello, please) you might try it in custards, sauces, puddings, chewy candies, and making your own marshmallows.
Here are some recipes that use agar (all are vegan):
- "Deviled Eggs"
- Mango Pudding (MANGO! PUDDING!)
- Homemade Marshmallows/Marshmallow Fluff
- Coconut "Panna Cotta"
- Gummy Worms
- Jelly Candies
- Cashew Cheeze (my husband would no doubt be appalled)
- Cosmopolitan Jello Shots (!!)
- and, of course: vegan Jello (plus some useful info on agar)
Definitely want to try to make the candies and eggs. And maybe marshmallow fluff. Random: Speaking of fluff, my cousins always used to eat "fluffer nutters" (marshmallow fluff + peanut butter) sandwiches growing up, and I thought they were crazy.... but, I also used to make fun of them for saying "wicked" (as in, "wicked awesome") all the time... but now I say it with pride. As in: I want the Celtics to win WICKED bad ;-)
For more on agar, click here. And let me know if you have a recipe success that uses agar!