Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009: Agar agarrrrgh

In a bid to use some leftover wholemeal shortcrust and a few oranges, I set about making a tart. My vision was a wholesome, non-sweet crust filled with a sweet cashew cream, topped with orange segments set in an orange juice-agar agar jelly.

The crust was passable, though I'll try something different next time. The cashew cream was great and I'll share it with you in a future post. I even managed to segment the oranges rather nicely, thanks to this video tute. My undoing proved to be the orange juice-agar agar jelly. I used this recipe from the Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland website. The agar agar gelled very effectively as I stirred it into the water over heat, then turned to hideous jellified strings when I added it to the orange juice. The remaining liquid juice didn't ever set, ultimately leeching into the crust and making for one soggy tart.

Can you offer me any agar agar advice? I wonder if the orange juice should have also been hot or warm as I stirred in the agar agar-water mixture. What have you made (succesfully or unsuccesfully) using agar agar?


  1. my take on agar (the vegan ingredient that STILL remains a mystery to me)

    ratio of powder to flakes is 1:5 according to my voluptous vegan book.. which I would tend to believe because all the times I've tried to use powder instead of flakes its always been a massive disaster...

    did you use powder or flakes?

    I've only been able to find powder till recently.. then I found flakes at the asian supermarket at vIC...

    you can however buy kosher jelly satchel at the supermaket that is exactly the same as using a bovine one... takes out the guess work a lot of the time...

    hope this helps!

  2. McGee says that the agar mixture should set at around 38C, so maybe it was cooled down too much by the orange juice before it was fully mixed in. The gel melts at 85C, so you could have heated the whole lot up and tried mixing it in again (obviously the heat will change the flavour of the orange juice though). If you used orange juice from the fridge, maybe you could fix the recipe by letting it come to room temperature first.

  3. Just in my experience with agar agar, you should heat up the liquid with the agar agar, because it sets around room temp.

    Good luck!

  4. I haven't used agar agar but aof did an interesting fruit jelly with it last year - you could check that out for a simple recipe and for her advice on the dreaded agar agar - I have heard it sets much quickly than gelatine but I have never used gelatine either

  5. Agar is very poor at acidic gels especially ones with as low a pH as citrus fruits. You are better off using a pectin when dealing with acidic fruits.

  6. I've heard similar to Andrew, though according to Urban Vegan the problem can be overcome by cooking the acidic fruit or juice before stirring in the agar. Since learning that tip, and also to soak the agar for 10 minutes before boiling, I have had many more agar successes.

  7. Awesome - thanks so much, everyone!

    Carla, I've been using powder though I think I recently spied flakes at an Asian grocery. Also noticed flavoured vegan jelly crystals at Radical Grocery so that's another option.

    Alex, I would never have imagined that I could just reheat the lot after it curdled strangely!

    Jess, I'll go straight for heating up all the liquid next time. Cheers!

    Johanna, thanks for directing me to AOF's post (which is here, if anyone else wants a look). It even uses orange juice, so perfect for this task!

    Andrew and Theresa, I would never have considered acidity as an issue! Thanks for the info.