GOOD FOOD

Agar-agar in the kitchen and in the bathroom

Text and photos: Anna Plaszczyk

10 September 2016

The gelation free of gelatin? To all vegetarians, vegans and those who care about the health, red algae: agar-agar from the coast of Japan can help.

Agar-agar is a galactose – sugar extracted from Japanese red algae. For a long time it has been used in the production of jelly or “ptasie mleczko”. However it has become popular relatively recently. And it is getting more and more popular because it can gel quickly and everything, in contrast to gelatine, which cannot cope with pineapple, mango, papaya and kiwi. It can cope with discerning jelly, prepared on the basis of vegetables equally effectively.

Agar-agar solidifies at temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, which is much faster than gelatine. It dissolves in water at temperature nearly 100 degrees Celsius. It can also be repeatedly heated and cooled without negative consequences for the jelly. But we should keep in mind that repeated heating of vegetables or fruits causes loss of nutritional value.

Agar-agar does not smell, it has no colour or taste. It is resistant to bacteria. Agar- agar powder is usually white, but on the market we can also buy crude, eco-friendly agar -agar, which is brown. Its food energy is similar to that of gelatine, but far less of agar-agar is needed to gel the same amount of liquid in case of gelatine (gelation is even 8 times more stronger than gelatine). Agar-agar quickly causes a feeling of fullness, so that helps in losing weight.

In the case of this gelling agent we have to remember a few basic principles – the more acidic fluid is, the more we need to add the agar -agar, to form a jelly. In contrast, the more sugar in the fluid - the less agar- agar we need to add.

Carrot agar jelly beans:
5 medium carrots
1 large apple
5g of agar -agar

Squeeze carrots and apples through the juicer. Take the foam off the juices. Bring to the boil and slowly put the agar-agar. Stir constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Fluid does not need any sweeteners, because carrots are flavourful and sweet sufficiently. Put it into ice silicone cups. Wait until the jelly beans solidify. Enjoy!

"Chinese grass" as agar-agar is called, will also help us to maintain a youthful skin. We can prepare tension mask using agar and marsh mallow. If we mix the agar-agar with rose water of marigold extract – we can get cleansing mask. Recently hair "lamination" using agar-agar has been a hit. With this treatment the hair get shiny and smooth. Dissolve a teaspoon of agar in 5 teaspoons of hot water (for short hair), put the mixture on washed, wet hair. Put a cap and heat it using hairdryer for 10 minutes. After another hour, rinse it thoroughly. To this mixture we can also add a teaspoon of hair masks.