This jellylike substance is a mix of carbohydrates that have been extracted from red algae, a type of seaweed. Typically used by vegans, the resulting recipe will have subtle variances from gelatin: Dishes made with agar will be firmer and less creamy and jiggly than those made with gelatin. Agar-agar recipes also stay firm when exposed to higher temperatures, while gelatin loses some of its stability.
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In cooking, agar-agar is used as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin in a variety of dishes, including puddings, mousses, and jellies, as well as ice cream, gummy candies, and cheesecake.
Instructions: Before agar can be added to a recipe, it needs to be dissolved in water and then boiled; it cannot be simply dissolved in a liquid or added directly to food. Dissolve the agar in a liquid in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and then simmer until slightly thickened, about five to seven minutes. Agar powder dissolves more quickly than flakes and strands, which need extra soaking time and stirring to fully dissolve. (Flakes, bars, and strands can be processed into powder before using.)