Agar agar: Overview

what is agar agar?
Agar is a flavorless, colorless and gelatinous substance obtained from red algae, most commonly from species in the Gelidium genera that are found along the coastlines of China, North and South Korea and Japan.

It is a mixture of polysaccharide agarose and agaropectin, glucose-based polymer agents that provide structural support in the cellular walls of these sea vegetables.

In contrast to gelatin, which is composed of animal protein, agar is essentially a combination of carbohydrates. It is also considerably high in fiber, protein, iodine and trace minerals.

Agar Agar, the vegetarian gelatin
Agar agar: History

history & nomenclature
Agar was first discovered in the mid-17th century by Mino Tarozaemon, a Japanese innkeeper, when extracted seaweed was left outside the inn overnight and froze. With repeated thawing, pressing and freezing, a pure, dry, papery product was obtained, which the Japanese call kanten. Kanten, means “cold weather.”

Other names include China grass, Jaffna moss, Ceylon moss and Japanese isinglass throughout Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Today, agar agar is widely used in Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines to make various confections, such as Dulce de Agar and anmitsu.