I have be wanting to get my hands on some Agar Flakes for a while, and last week I spotted some in Waitrose. Traditionally Japanese Agar Flakes, are a sea vegetable gelling agent, a high quality vegetarion alternative to gelatine for making desserts and jellies.
Agar Flakes Ingredients: Agar-agar sea vegetable
Clearspring Agar Flakes are prepared in the traditional way in Kapan by cooking selected sea vegetables until soft then naturally freeze drying outside in the wintersin and snows. They have a neutrel flavour and are free from any bleeching or softening agents.
Clearsing says “The process to make Agar Flakes begins at sea, where selected red sea plants of the Gelidium species are harvested and dried in the Autumn. Bundled up and taken to the mountains where the Mizoguchi shop is, they are kept until the heart of winter when the production process can begin.
“First, the sea vegetables are washed to remove the extra salt and any seashells, and then they are reconstituted by soaking in water for over 3 to 4 days during which time the water is constantly changed. They are then cooked in water inside of a giant cauldron for 4 hours and then left overnight, to extract a thick, jelly-like substance. The cooled gel is then filtered to separate it from the fibers of the sea vegetables. The filtered gel is then poured in plastic trays to set, then cut into thick bars using a special sharp rake-like cutter, with 22 bars to a tray.
“Each bar is then placed onto a bamboo mat and carefully put outside in snow covered dormant rice fields where they will stay for up to 4 weeks, depending on the weather.
“During these weeks, an amazing natural process occurs: during the cold winter nights the water contained in the bars freezes, and ice will form on the surface. During the days the ice thaws and the resulting water evaporates: the agar bars are slowly and naturally drying. Over this long natural process, the water content will reduce from 99% to 1%, leaving just the porous and light bars of pure agar.
“The resulting dried bars are then packed and sold in Japan with no further process step. For export, the product is shipped as bars simply shaved into convenient flakes.Before it is freeze-dried, fresh agar, called “tokoroten” in Japanese, is enjoyed as a popular delicacy in Japan. It is cut and served as a cold noodle often with a sweet or vinegared broth.”
I can’t wait to get started using Agar Flakes and have some great sugar and dairy free treats to try out – so watch this space.