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Old 08-30-2009, 05:49 PM   #1
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anybody has experience using AGAR AGAR powder

my family and friends LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my panna cotta. i make it with heavy cream, a little coconut cream, & milk, and i flavor it with just a touch of vanilla.

normally, i use knox gelatin; it comes out perfect EVERY time, but a friend suggested using agar agar-saying that it would produce a much lighter mouth-feel in comparison to gelatin.

the agar was very hard to find & expensive, and AFTER SEVERAL attempts at using both the agar powder & the agar flakes, i just can't get this stuff to set right!!!

anyone have any comments, suggestions, etc.? i'd like to learn how to use this stuff.

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Old 08-30-2009, 06:34 PM   #2
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I know it's used in medical laboratories to grow bacteria cultures - you know, the gelatin stuff at the bottom of petri dishes!

It is derived from seaweed and generally found in flake form for kitchen use. It is also used to thicken tofu. It is tasteless, indigestible and has a laxative effect in moderate amounts. Similar thickening agents are arrowroot and tapioca, besides being less expensive.

I would recommend sticking with the gelatin.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:57 PM   #3
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i have family members that are vegetarians... that's why i'm trying to learn how to use the agar. they can't/won't have the gelatin.

plus, i've had panna cotta made with agar, and it did have a lighter mouth-feel... not "custard-like."

i just can't get it right.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:32 PM   #4
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Hi blackchef, I use agar agar often and I have used it to make panacotta without an issue. I don't eat pork and avoid gelatin.

The one thing you should know about agar agar is that you should avoid using low fat milk or 2% milk to make your panacotta else there is sometimes the chance that it will curdle.

So here are my tips for using agar agar:

1. Buy it at Asian or Indian markets if you can, it's much cheaper. It's also know as China Grass

2. Use half and half to make the panacotta (that works the best for me)

3. Use 1/4 cup of water, bring it to a boil and dissolve the agar agar sheets in the water first, it should be completely dissolved. It should look like a thick but smooth gel. So you can figure out the water to agar combo accordingly. The texture should not be lumpy or globby but like a smooth gel toothpaste.

4. Get your panacotta base completely ready first. So for example I make a white chocolate version of panacotta and I get my milk , chocolate, vanilla, sugar mixture properly cooked and the right texture first, then add the dissolved agar agar and water mixture to it. Stir it and cook it for another 5 or so minutes.

5. Pour into moulds and let it cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.

Always works for me :-) so all the best.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:49 PM   #5
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thx for the help, but i haven't been able to locate the agar sheets. instead, i ordered the powder version online... figuring it would dissolve faster, etc.

well, it did, and then, it clumped, dissolved, and clumped-up again.

i will try to locate the sheets, and i will try your method of cooking it.
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