Well-known plant-based gelatin which is derived from seaweed and something that we use in our cooking is the Agar Agar. This is an ingredient that you can find as flakes, powder, bar, and strand form in your markets.
Agar agar is a gluten-free product that is used as a thickener and most importantly it is very nutritious. It is used in many dairy-free and vegan recipes and serves as a thickener in most recipes.
It is often used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. It is a product that comes from the South East Asian seaweed and is used mostly as an appetite suppressant.
It is tasteless and odorless, which makes it perfect for adding to many types of recipes, whether sweet or savory. However, if you have no agar agar in your reach, nowhere to find is there something else to use?
The best substitutes for agar agar are Gelatin, Pectin powder, Xanthan Gum, Guar gum, Carrageenan, and Cornstarch.
Each ingredient has its own trades so make sure to use the proper alternative in your recipe as well as keep in mind the substituting ratio and don’t overuse, because your final results won’t meet your expectations.
Substitutes for Agar Agar
As we all know, no ingredient is irreplaceable and adaptable to your diet and the type of recipe that you are making.
However, it may happen that there might be a change in the texture and structure of your recipe but no worries every ingredient can be used and turned into something very delicious and unique. Read further to choose your best alternative for agar agar.
This is a product that is commonly found in jello and similar products. Gelatin is not a vegetarian product because it is made from meat. Just like the agar agar powder, gelatin is also colorless and odorless and it won’t cause any effects on the flavor of the other ingredients that it is used with.
Actually, gelatin is easier to combine as opposed to agar agar, and another advantage is considered the fact that it is sold in many grocery stores and can be found more easily. Also, both have a similar effect in most liquids, but the gelatin needs to be kept in the fridge.
When it comes to the nutrition facts, gelatin is less nutritious than agar agar. Further, keep in mind that agar agar needs to be boiled before use and gelatin can be used as it is. Combine a ratio of 3:1 when substituting in a recipe.
2. Pectin powder
A vegetarian and vegetable-based substitute to agar agar is pectin powder. Pectin is made from berries and citrus fruit which makes this ingredient’s cell walls in fruit. It is known as the best thickener in jams and jellies. It will provide the jelly structure and texture as it should be and can be used instead of agar agar.
Pectin powder has fiber and does not provide many nutritions. In this powder, you can find sugar unlike agar agar and it is used mostly for sweet preparations. However, keep in mind that pectin powder may not be very suitable for savory recipes. The same replacement applies here, 3:1 ratio in recipes when substituting agar agar.
3. Xanthan Gum
Another alternative that can be used is Xanthan Gum which is a relatively new ingredient. Made from fermenting a specific type of bacteria it is safe to consume and use in recipes. You can use it as a thickener for agar agar in a 1:1 ratio which will give perfect results. The downside of this product is that it is a bit more expensive and the good thing is that it can be easily found and it lasts for a long period.
4. Guar gum
A natural based thickener that is made from guar beans. It is a gluten-free alternative that is used in wheat flour and serves as a very good alternative for agar agar. It is considered to be a nutritious and healthy product. You can use this product when you are making dough for pizza, cakes, muffins, and other types of bakeries. Use a half tablespoon per cup and make sure not to overuse.
Another product which is made from a plant is the Carrageenan. It is a very good substitute for agar agar. It is a polysaccharide that is usually used in desserts, beer, processed meat, and soy milk. Carrageenan does not have any nutritious value and has no flavor, so it can be used as a thickener as well as and stabilizer. You can substitute without problems.
Another product that you can also use as a replacement for agar agar is cornstarch. It is a product that is flavorless but it will add texture to your recipe. It is usually used the same way as agar agar to add thickness to the mixture.
Typically, cornstarch is used as an anti-cake agent, as well as you can use it in cookies and to add tenderness in some dessert recipes. Use 1 tablespoon of agar powder to substitute 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, meaning again a ratio of 1:1.
When using these substitutes in cooking for agar agar, you can start with a 1:1 ratio or 2:1 when combining. Also, make sure that the whole texture with the ingredients is thick enough, and do not add more if it’s the complete texture you need. In case it is not, add a bit more but not too much. Always remember the rule: you can always add more but you can not take out if you put more than enough.
What can I use instead of gelatin and agar agar?
The best choice would be carrageenan. This is also a vegetable-based product that will fit perfectly as an alternative for agar agar in recipes. The same as agar agar it comes from seaweed and is very similar and gives almost the same results
How long does agar agar last?
This product can last up to eight months. But it is better to prepare for several days and count three days max of each one.