Expert information on agar-agar and carrageenan Agar-agar is a natural product extracted from certain types of red seaweeds such as Gelidium and Gracilaria; it is a polysaccharide, consisting primarily of galactose units. It is mainly used as gelling agent, thickener, water binder and stabiliser and is known as a versatile hydrocolloid, which is insoluble in cold water but completely soluble in boiling water. Only certain types of agar-agar can be dissolved at lower temperatures. Agar-agar has the following advantages as gelling agent: its jellifying power, which is 10 times higher than that of animal origin gelatine; its translucent and tasteless gels, which do not add or disguise flavour and allow transparent and bright coloured gels; its broad application spectrum: the use of agar in cooking ranges from sweet dishes (fruit gelatines, marmalades, bavarois, cakes…) to salty dishes (vegetable gelatines, sauces, spreads, creams, purées, rice dishes…); its heat-stability up to 80 - 85ºC whilst preserving its consistency and resulting in a very smooth texture (warm gelatine); its ability to assimilate and fix flavours so gels with different aromas can be obtained; its reversibility, which allows repetitive melting and gelling without loosing aroma or texture; its easy handling and fast gelling: animal origin gelatine may take up to two hours to gel in the refrigerator, while agar gellifies in 10 minutes even at room temperature; its versatility in textures, ranging from soft to hard gels depending on the quantity of agaragar used. Further remarkable for agar-agar are its dietetic properties and fibre content of 94,8% whilst providing at the same time oligoelements such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Thereby agar-agar

helps combating overweight (agar-agar does not provide any calories for the organism); has a high satiating power; combats constipation; eases and regulates intestinal transit; regenerates and smoothens the intestinal walls; combats cholesterol and...

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