# agar

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by thebighat, Jun 15, 2003.

1. ### thebighat

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I bought a couple of pounds of this at work because gelatin is pretty much a no-no. I have never used it. Got the fine powder but am not real clear on what to do with it. Friberg says it needs to be simmered till dissolved and that it is 8 time stronger than gelatin. I use either a gelatin solution of 1 oz powder to 5 oz of water and use 1 oz of that per lb of whatever I'm trying to set, or use 1.6 leaves to set the same amount. what adjustment am I going to have to make? found a vegan site on the web that says it can be substituted weight for weight, but if that's right, then Friberg is not. Anybody use this?

2. ### thebighat

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All right, all you eighth grade grads raise your hands. If one oz of gelatin in 5 oz of water is one part in 6, then in one oz of solution we've got .165 oz of gelatin. Dividing that by my all purpose gram factor of .03527 gives us 4.68 grams of agar, weight for weight. So the stock solution would be 5 oz of water to 28 grams of agar, or 1 oz. that makes sense. Now, if agar is used at 1/8 the level of gelatin, then the stock solution now is 5 oz water to 3.5 grams of agar to gel 6 lbs of whatever. One oz of this solution should gel a lb of liquid, mousse, puree, what you like. I found a french page with the lyrical google translation that said 2-4 grams per liter of liquid will gel that amount of liquid. This is where I fall down. How much bigger than a pint is a liter? If it's roughly twice, then I have figured roughly twice the amount of agar than Chef Simon on this page I found uses. Well, at least this is a starting point. 3.5 grams is an eighth of an ounce. We have scales that will weigh to the hundredth of a pound, however 1/8 oz is .0078, and that's too much rounding up. I could weigh out 1/4 oz on the baker's scale and use a long-neglected skill and divide the little white pile by eye, with the thin blade of a sharp knife. I could then perform the whipped cream experiment in another thread.
I made an annniversary cake the other day at the store, all totally under the radar of the big baking bosses. I made vanilla chiffon genoise filled with raspberry curd and iced with citrus tinted Italian meringue buttercream. One 12 inch, one 9 inch, one 6 inch, decorated very simply with shell borders and gold dragees (plastic ones) and white orchids We sold it for 200 bucks and there is no plu or sku for it and we're gonna get caught when the bean counters want to know what the Miscellaneous Bakery for 200 bucks was.
But I thought I could start to make mousses with curd, agar and whipped cream. Bands of ladyfingers, nice flavorful syrup, and delicious whipped cream and fresh raspberries on the top. The way it works around the store is that I can get the raspberries from produce dept that are not in tip top condition and make puree out of them and not have to buy it from Sid Wainer. It is such an incredible hassle trying to get new numbers issued. Talk about control issues. I've gotten two so far. I reworked a cookie recipe and worked up a fairly tasty wheat free cake.

3. ### lamington

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A few comments about agar-agar... Basic quantities seem to be (according to my Asian references) 20ml of powder OR 7gm of sticks to 1.5 litres of water or 1 litre of other liquid (typically coconut milk, condensed milk, purees). A litre is 2.1 US pints (1 US pint is 473ml). I'm afraid I don't know the weight of the powdered form of agar-agar. Non-water mixtures usually set a little softer, though that's not surprising.

I have not experimented with different degrees of firmness. However, it is important to note that something set with agar behaves more like an exceedingly firm junket -- it sort of 'flakes' when cut or stressed. You don't get any spongey or creamy character.

An important point, in case you don't know, is that agar sets very very quickly--within seconds of coming off its liquid temperature. I'm not sure how successfully one could combine it with other ingredients to create foams/mousses or anything not intended to have a rather solid texture.

4. ### momoreg

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WOW, TBH!

I thought we had had conversations in the past about agar agar here, so I ran a search, with the word 'agar', and a bunch of viable threads came up. Give it a shot, and you'll find tons of info. from prior conversations.

5. ### thebighat

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I searched the archives also, but didn't find an actual how-to. In fact one posting was something that I've turned up previously on the web doing a google search.
The ceo of the company is coming for a visit on Thursday and I would like to have something he's never seen before sitting there on the sampling board. The wheat free cake definitely, and I found a lemon tofu cheesecake on the web tonight that would be a good first experiment with the agar. (I'll make stuff like this to sell, but I've been freaking out for Starbucks coffee ice cream all night.)

6. ### w.debord

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Apparently I should give back my 8th grade diploma!

7. ### momoreg

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8. ### panini

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tbh
Run shelf lifes on the products you have before cranking them out. It's been yrs since I have played with agar but I can remember a quicker breakdown then gel.
Gel is a no-no because of the makeup? animal?

9. ### w.debord

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so how's it going tbh?

10. ### thebighat

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I tried a no-bake lemon tofu cheesecake today. Puree the tofu and add maple syrup, lemon rind and juice, vanilla and a bit of salt. The 3 t of agar is allowed to soften in water, then simmered till dissolved, at which point the mixture got viscous. Then you thicken that with arrowroot dissolved in soymilk and bring to a boil. Add to the tofu, mix and pour into a pan with a collar and a short dough kind of crust. It set very quickly, was fairly firm but tender. The ceo of the earthy crunchy grocery store is visiting tomorrow so I'll have this, a wheat free cake with raspberry filling and soymilk ganache, valrhona milk chocolate pudding and my fabulous Napoleons to tease him with.
The way the agar got thick and clear when heated makes me think one could mix a mousse, like a lemon curd and whipped cream, then temper some of it into the agar, and then mix everything all together. The technique of using it seems to be straightforward. I had no trouble getting it to dissolve. It's the amount to use that now has to be figured out.

11. ### thebighat

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So this very laid back ceo said he didn't eat between meals. Oh well. The cheesecake was actually pretty good, and we sold the wheat-free cake. And sold out the Napoleons. The regional president was with him and asked me how things were going, and I told him probably more than he wanted to hear, as my big boss was on the phone this a.m. wanting to know what THAT was all about. Not much communication between pastry teams at stores, very difficult to get formulas, incredibly long lead time to get new plu thingies issued. We-re only 25 miles or so from regional headquarters, but you'd think we were on another planet.

12. ### momoreg

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Thanks for the update, TBH. I'm interested in seeing what you learn with agar.

13. ### lotuscakestudio

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Where did you find powdered agar in such big quantities? I can only find it for \$1 for 25 grams at a grocery store in Chinatown. Have yet to play with it, but I know once I do, I will need large quantities.

14. ### thebighat

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I work for Whole Foods Market and ordered it through the whole body dept from Frontier. It was 34 and change a lb. The store sells agar flakes but they are 5 bucks for a little bag.

15. ### lotuscakestudio

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Thanks bighat! That's where I used to buy agar from. Way too pricey and I don't like working with flakes. Those darn things refused to dissolve for me.

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