Agar Agar or Kanten Fruit Jellies (aka Vegan Jello)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Fruit Jellies made with Agar Agar or Kanten

Whew. Tomorrow a new oven gets installed. My cousin bought a double oven. Sweet. I'll be a baking machine in the mornings. But, until then, I'm continuing on my no-bake desserts! Today, more freaking Jello...but this time it is made with agar agar or kanten!

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Today, I'm going to my roots for Agar Agar or as it is called in Japanese, Kanten. Oh, Google the term and you'll get lots of info. It's made from seaweed (The Tokyo Foundation has a photo essay). The last time you saw it was probably at the bottom of a petri dish in 8th grade science. You may have seen it in a Japanese restaurant as Anmitsu, a fruit cocktail, red bean and kanten cube dessert.

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
Agar agar has lots of advantages over gelatin or Jello. First, it doesn't smell like gelatin. When you bloom unflavored Knox gelatin, you know there's gelatin in the room. Second, Agar Agar can withstand warm conditions. Most Asian countries use agar agar and it gets damn hot in the summer. It sets up super fast, even without refrigeration (although I recommend refrigerating your dessert). Since it is made from seaweed, it is vegan and kosher. It's also a "diet" food in Japan. They were on a big kanten craze because it has no calories and lots of fiber...making you feel full. Of course, I add sugar to mine, so don't hop on my diet train.

However, the texture is different! Agar Agar is definitely firmer than Jello - it doesn't giggle or melt on your tongue. Not everyone will like it, but that is their loss. :)

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
There are a bunch of different products out there. Kanten sticks (found in a Japanese grocery store), agar agar powder and flakes. You need to soak the sticks before use, and I read online that different brands/types might set up I'm making no guarantees on this recipe.

Since I bought my Kanten powder at the Japanese store, the instructions were in Japanese. I photographed the instructions and sent them to my friend, Yuko in Japan to translate! Thanks so much Yuko!! Each envelope has 4 g of powder. I've seen large bags of Agar Agar in the Chinese market too. Everyone says it is crazy expensive in the health food store or vegan you may want to wander into an Asian market if you have one nearby.

By the way, you need to check out Vivienne from Green Cilantro's absolutely beautiful fresh fruit mold - stunning! She's a creative genius! I'm definitely going to try this!

Kanten Agar Agar Fruit
For these treats, here is what I did:
1. Place 2 cups (about 500 cc) of water in a pot.
2. Sprinkle one 4 g envelope of powdered agar agar into the pot.
3. Add 1 cup of sugar (I wasn't adding any fruit juice (a popular option) because I wanted the jelly to be clear...but it was a little too sweet. Sorta like eating firmed up simple syrup. Next time, I'd cut the sugar)
4. Bring to a boil and stir to make sure the agar agar dissolves. Boil for 1-2 minutes.
5. Pour into molds. Remember, agar agar makes things firm up super quick so you need to have everything ready! I used my mini tartlet molds and one ramekin, with fresh raspberries and canned mandarin oranges (my favorite comfort food). I don't use the tartlet shells very often, so it was fun to pull them out!
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Mr. P said... [Reply to comment]

Mary, they are so gorgeous! They need to be handed round at a drinks party. Need.

Molliwobbles said... [Reply to comment]

I like how they look very much. Clear things with color inside always make me happy. I'm not sure if I can find agar agar here but I'm going to try!

Fathima said... [Reply to comment]

Wow... the jellies look so beautiful! What a great idea!

Viv said... [Reply to comment]

Oh wow, glad you hopped on the agar agar wagon as well...these look so jewels! I love these just coz they don't smell like gelatine and can set so quickly! but yea they're def more expensive...i got mine from health food shop >< however, i heard that some of the ones from the Asian stores (not made in Japan) don't turn out quite as well...

Jessica said... [Reply to comment]

Yes!! I tried making something with agar agar several months ago, but it didn't end up working out because the powder I bought already had sugar in it, but I didn't realize it. It didn't firm up enough. I've found the pure stuff in the bulk section at my grocery store and have been wanting to try again. These look so awesome!

LimeCake said... [Reply to comment]

lovely jellies! a nice change from all the cakes and puddings on holiday tables right now.

Nam @ The Culinary Chronicles said... [Reply to comment]

These are so pretty! I still have yet to make your Broken Glass Jello :)

hannah [bake five] said... [Reply to comment]

Im asian but i pretty much dislike agar agar...although i must say, its looks wins jello handsdown! (:

Jessie @ simplysifted said... [Reply to comment]

This might be a dumb question, but does agar agar taste or smell like seaweed at all?

Joyti said... [Reply to comment]

Odd coincidence: you are the third blog I've seen today featuring agar-agar. I don't eat gelatin (beef or pork either) so I'm dying to get my hands on some. And I love what you did with the agar-agar your fruit jellies are gorgeous!

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

Dear Jessie, Not a dumb question at all! Agar is clear and odorless. It has no flavor at all so you need to flavor it with sugar, fruit juice or other flavorings! ;) - mary

Peggy said... [Reply to comment]

These looks absolutely gorgeous! I've always been intrigued by agar agar, and this may be my final push to use it!

Angellove's Cooking said... [Reply to comment]

BEAUTIFUL!!! Absolutely beautiful!!!

Molliwobbles said... [Reply to comment]

Hey awesome lady... just wanted to let you know that I am making your broken glass jello tomorrow, and I linked your blog in my post! I hope you don't mind that I also linked one of your photos; if you'd like me to I'll take it down. (-: Just wanted to let you know what a hit it was last time and that I'm making it again. Woo!

CaSaundraLeigh said... [Reply to comment]

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Frankie said... [Reply to comment]

Those look so cute! How unique!

valen said... [Reply to comment]

Hello! I want to know if this jelly o jam can stay out of the fridge or should always been in the refrigerator? one occasion I saw this jelly placed on a chocolate bon bon, but i dont know if it melts if stay out of the refrigerator. Thanks!!

Shoshana said... [Reply to comment]

Where did you find the powder? I see the flakes everywhere, but would rather use the powder.

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@Shoshana I found the powdered agar agar at a Japanese grocery store in Los Angeles. I have also seen it at Chinese and other Asian markets.

J said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful! I stumbled upon this while googling agar agar! Can i ask: can I use silver aluminium paper cups as moulds? Worried it won't hold it's shape when I try this out! Thanks so much!

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@!Joe! #20: Joe - You might be able to use the Aluminum paper cups as molds, but you would need to place those inside a cupcake tray to give it more stability. I haven't tried it though...good luck. - mary

nobile said... [Reply to comment]

I just tried to make these guys for my husband, but I was unable to get the agar agar to turn out clear like yours! I used about 1.5tsp of regular white sugar for every 1gr of agar agar powder. Should I have let the agar agar sit on the water for a while before putting in the sugar and letting it boil? Should I have used a different kind of sugar?

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@nobile #22 Nobile, Sorry for the delay in my response. I'm sorry that didn't work out. Unfortunately, I don't use Agar that much so I haven't come across the same problem. Did you let it boil until the sugar was totally dissolved? I'm sorry I can't be of more help! - mary

hiyala said... [Reply to comment]

how to use the sticks??

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@heidiSorry Heidi, I don't know the ratio of powder to sticks. I have seen recipes calling for sticks or powder...but never saw a ratio between the two.

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