Agar agar powder is used in a variety of recipes, from vegan treats to cookery experiments. But what if you can’t find agar agar in your local store and need to whip up a special dessert? Don’t despair!
There are quite a few natural, healthy alternatives to agar agar powder that work just as well. We’ve compiled a list of some excellent substitutes for agar agar powder that’ll help you out in a pinch!
1. Konjac Root Flour
Konjac root flour offers a convenient and healthy alternative to agar agar powder. Derived from the root of the konjac plant, this flour is naturally low in carbohydrates and free from gluten and other common allergens. It is thus an ideal replacement for those looking for a nutritious addition to their cooking.
When substituting konjac root flour for agar agar powder, you’ll need to add more konjac root flour to get the same gelling effect. This is because konjac has less gelling power than agar agar. Approximately three tablespoons of konjac root flour for one teaspoon of agar agar powder will be ideal. Konjac root flour is also very easy to use. You just need to mix it with cold water until it’s properly dissolved before adding it to dishes as desired.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 3 tablespoons of konjac root flour.
2. Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a naturally derived gum made by fermenting sugar that’s used in everything from dressings and sauces to ice cream and bread. It is a good option for agar agar powder since it has a comparable binding characteristic. It’s also gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, so you can use it in a variety of dishes while considering dietary limitations.
You will need the same amount of xanthan gum to replace agar agar powder. The substitution ratio is one teaspoon of xanthan gum for every tablespoon of agar agar powder. It mixes easily into liquids when heated, making it simple to blend into any recipe that requires a thickener. Best of all, xanthan gum is readily available in most supermarkets and organic health food stores.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 1 tablespoons of xanthan gum.
Not only is gelatin cost-effective and widely available, but it also imparts a luxuriously smooth texture to the dish while providing a unique flavor. Gelatin will also give dishes an unmistakable sheen, making it perfect for all kinds of recipes, from jelly desserts to mousses and cold soups.
When replacing agar agar powder with gelatin, be sure to use an equal ratio by weight. So, if your recipe calls for one tablespoon of traditional gelling agent, simply use one tablespoon of gelatin instead. Bear in mind that gelatin takes longer to set and may require extra refrigeration time. So if you’re creating a jelly dessert or something similar, triple the amount of time you would normally leave it in the fridge with an agar agar-based recipe.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 1 tablespoon of gelatin.
Cornstarch is a great substitute for agar agar powder in most vegan recipes. Not only is it natural, but it’s also easy to find in most local supermarkets. Furthermore, it can be used in much the same way as agar agar powder as it offers a similar, albeit slightly thinner, consistency.
To substitute, use two tablespoons of cornstarch for every teaspoon of agar agar powder. Make a paste by mixing cornstarch with cold water before using it, and make sure to whisk it vigorously while heating up the cornstarch to ensure it thickens.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
5. Arrowroot Powder
Derived from the root of the arrowroot plant, arrowroot powder is another great alternative to agar agar in recipes requiring a thickening agent. Unlike other substitutes like xanthan gum or cornstarch, arrowroot powder will not alter the flavor of your dishes as it has no flavor. It’s also gluten-free and vegan-friendly, making it versatile enough to use as a thickener in both sweet and savory dishes.
When using arrowroot powder to replace agar agar powder, remember that arrowroot powder has a stronger thickening ability. So, use approximately half the amount of agar agar. Half a teaspoon of arrowroot powder for every teaspoon of agar agar powder would work well in your recipe. Simply dilute it with cold water before adding it to your mix. Don’t forget to bring it to a boil for about one minute to activate the thickener.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 1/2 arrowroot powder.
Pectin is a great substitute for agar agar powder due to its natural binding properties. It is a white, tasteless powder made from citrus fruits and is popularly used in jams and jellies. Pectin is also known to be a useful alternative to gelatin.
To use pectin as a substitute for agar agar powder, you will need to use a nearly 1.5-ounce packet of pectin powder for four tablespoons of agar agar. You will also need to modify the amount of sugar you use since pectin powder is derived from fruits and is already quite sweet. Because of this, pectin is also best suited to sweet recipes and may not work well in savory dishes.
4 tablespoons of agar agar powder = 1.59 ounce package of pectin powder.
Carrageenan comes from a family of seaweed species — red algae, also called Irish moss. It is produced commercially by drying and milling the weed into a powder or syrup form. Carrageenan also has a neutral flavor and can thus be used as an agar agar substitute as a gelling, thickening, stabilizing, and suspending agent.
Depending on the recipe’s requirement, you can use carrageenan in the same amount as agar agar. However, it’s important to note that while carrageenan has nearly the same properties as agar agar, it will produce a softer gel and usually requires different hydration and heating techniques. It should be dissolved first in hot liquid, then brought to a boil over low heat for about 10 minutes to activate it.
1 tablespoon of agar agar powder = 1 tablespoon of carrageenan.