The versatility of agar, a booming ingredient

Wed, 24/08/2022 - 10:31

As previously reported in our article 'How and when agar was discovered', agar became a significant part of the oriental economy, as they have been using agar in food extensively since ancient times.

The hydrocolloids that can be extracted from seaweed differ according to their type, and different by-products can be obtained. Agar-agar was the first hydrocolloid extracted and used from red algae, especially from the Gelidium and Gracilaria genera.

However, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that it was introduced as a key component to create semi-solid culture media in bacteriology, as a result of its aseptic and solidifying nature.

In the food industry, agar has been used as an ingredient precisely because of its gelling, thickening and stabilizing functions, while maintaining the odor, flavor or color of the end product.

With a concentration five times lower than gelatin, agar forms transparent and compact gels. Additionally, its stabilizing properties ensure that food is preserved from production to final consumption, prolonging its lifetime.

It is the perfect supplement to vegetarian diets as it can replace animal gelatin in a multitude of foods and replace their fat thanks to its microgel-forming property, creating a very similar food experience to the original.

In the dairy industry, its use continues to increase for the preparation of dulce de leche, yogurt, flan and countless other foods as it provides a homogeneous and creamy texture.

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