Unlike gelatine (derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones), Agar comes from seaweed. A positive gelatine substitute, Agar has no taste, no odour and no colour, and sets more firmly. It is more potent than gelatine, sets at room temperature and stays firm even when the temperature heats up.
USING AGAR AS GELATINE SUBSTITUTE
Agar is vegan and therefore opens a new world of possibilities for people who can't eat gelatine and if used properly, will yield a similar texture.
To workout the perfect conversion it is important to be precise while measuring the ingredients (a little goes a long way). Another important factor is the acidity level of your mixture as it will influence Agar's gelling ability. Thirdly, Agar from different companies will vary slightly in their culinary characteristics. So it may be necessary to play around a bit the first time. It could be that substituting gelatine for powdered Agar is one of the most controversial ratio known to the baking world. But once you get it right, you'll never look back! Agar is versatile in the kitchen and great for your health. And it has the significant advantage that Agar can be re-heated and the recipe amended when you get a less than perfect result! something you can't do with animal gelatine!
For NZ Agar, generally speaking:
To set 500ml of liquid:
4 sheets gelatine =1 envelope powdered gelatine =1 tbsp.granulated gelatine =1 tsp. agar powder= 2g Agar
3:1 powdered gelatin to powdered agar conversion
Note: The substitution amounts given here are just a rule of thumb. Adjustments may be required depending on the brand of agar used and the acidity level of your recipe.
Agar can play a positive role in many 'specialised' culinary applications : give texture to raw recipes, replace eggs in baking or simply reduce fat & lower sugar content in many dishes. It also has the advantage of being nutritionally dense!