The differences between Gelatin vs. Agar can be quite vague—maybe confusing for some. While both Gelatin and Agar are key ingredients in preparing desserts, we are going to examine the distinctiveness of their source closer in this article.
Fruit jellies are such a lovely treat to have when we were kids. Now growing up, we are taking more effort to know what we are putting into our body. That’s how the discussion of Gelatin vs. Agar takes place. So, what’s the difference between agar and gelatin?
The jelly-like properties of gelatin are not unheard of as it plays a key role in the foods that we are familiar with. Jellies, marshmallows, jams, gummy bears all have gelatin in them. As of recently too, it’s paving itself in as a one of the ways to add collagen in our diets.
On the other hand, there is Agar, otherwise known better as agar-agar. In Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, agar is used to make jellies for a while now. Meanwhile in the West, it is gaining its own reputation in the vegan cuisine—mainly because it proves as a solid plant-based substitution for the usual gelatin used. People are starting to experiment with it and involve Agar more in their cooking.
Gelatin, as we are more familiar with, is mainly sourced from animal hides and bone marrow. By cooking collagen, we get gelatin—that gelatin then can be used in cooking as thickening and binding agent. It also specifically has been used in cooking for generations as a thickening and/or binding agent. It’s completely flavorless, odorless, and colorless, but it’s what gives candies and jams their smooth and velvety texture.
On the other hand, Agar is a gelling agent made from red algae, a kind of edible seaweed. While gelatin is collagen sourced from animal hides and bone marrow. Agar has almost no nutritional value, save for fiber, while gelatin is a significant source of collagen. What makes it interesting is that it is vegan-friendly, so that means that are options for those who abstain from animal products. While it does require more heat to melt, it provides a more chewy and gummy texture. It really makes for a vegan substitute emulsifier or stabilizer. There you have it, the difference between these two thickening agents. Now you can pass along that knowledge to someone else!
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