Raw food recipes often present challenge with texture, especially when trying to make them low calories & low fat.
The naturally occuring gel in seaweed has no fat and very few calories while providing a lovely texture and many essential nutrients. Agar is not strictly RAW but there are ways around the issue and still create raw food recipes. It needs to be brought to 90 C to dissolve and release it gelling abilities. What is possible though, is to dissolve the Agar in a small amount of the liquid and add it to the other raw ingredients in the recipe before it sets.
HOW TO PREPARE AGAR FOR RAW FOOD RECIPES
Measure 50ml of the liquid into a small pot and sprinkle the Agar powder (and sugar if using) over it. Let stand for 5 minutes for the Agar to ‘swell/bloom’ and recover its jellifying properties.
Then gently bring the mixture to 90 C (agar melting point) over medium heat, while stirring. Simmer until the agar (and the sugar) is completely dissolved - a few minutes only. The texture will change ever so slightly, making the liquid feel thicker.
Cool down slightly, and combine quickly with the rest of the liquids in your recipe. Transfer to a serving dish to set.
THINGS YOU MUST KNOW
- Dry Agar needs to 're-hydrate/swell/bloom' to recover its gelling abilities. Agar won't melt properly without 'blooming' and the recipe will fail to set.
- Agar will melt ~ 90 C; prolong cooking weakens the gelling properties.
- Once Agar has melted in the warm liquid, the combining with the other ingredients must be done before the melt Agar is set. Interfering with the mixture while setting is risky as it may not set again properly if disturbed.
- The mixture will set at room temperature and solidify some more over the next hour or so. Refrigeration will speed the process up.
- *Acidic foods/liquids can interfere with the gelling of Agar so more Agar may be required.
OTHER USES FOR AGAR IN RAW FOOD RECIPES
- Agar is a vegan alternative to gelatine and can be used in much the same way
- Agar can be used as egg replacement, especially for egg-whites
- Harmonizing texture, when a mixture contains ingredients with different weight (see our dressing recipe)
- Stabilizing certain ingredients like sugar, and prevent its crystallisation or for ice cream, to prevent frosting.
- Keeping sorbet softer when frozen, dissolve 1/3 teaspoon of Agar in 2 tablespoons of water and bring to temperature. Then mix the Agar liquid back into 1 litre of sorbet mixture before churning.
- Fining/ clarifying of juices, vinegar and alcoholic beverages.