How do we make our agar-agar?

Mon, 12/09/2022 - 11:31

Agar-agar is a polysaccharide obtained from the cell wall of some Gelidium and Gracilaria species. It is also sometimes called 'vegetable gelatin' or 'Japanese gelatin', referring to the origin of this hydrocolloid.

It is classified as a thickening additive, with the E-406 nomenclature, and its gelling properties are used to thicken a number of products without altering their color, odor and flavor.

Agar is widely used in many industries and sectors and, as we mentioned in our post 'The versatility of agar, a booming ingredient', its most widespread use is in the food industry, as a thickening agent in dairy products, confectionery and bakery products, sauces, etc.

The steps involved in the agar harvesting process are as follows:

  1. Once the algae are harvested, they are sun-dried or dried mechanically so that they can be stored in a way that prevents their fermentation.
  2. When required as raw material, they must be properly washed to remove any marine debris such as mollusks, sand and small algae.
  3. After they are completely clean, they are subjected to a cooking process with a temperature and pressure conditions suitable for the agar to migrate from the inside of the cell wall to the water.
  4. Once this is achieved, the next step is to filter the agar dilution in water to eliminate all impurities and then the dilution is cooled until a gel is obtained.
  5. The agar concentration in the gel obtained is very low, so it is necessary to eliminate as much water as possible in two ways, either by freezing or by pressure.
  6. By reducing the amount of water, thin strips called papyrus are obtained, which are ground to a fine powder. This powder is introduced into the dryer until a moisture of 20% or less is achieved.  
  7. The agar powder is then sieved to ensure product uniformity and an intermediate batch is prepared and subjected to physical and chemical analysis to determine its properties.
  8. Lastly, a final batch is created by mixing intermediate batches that meet the characteristics requested by our clients.