Agar-agar is the latest darling of French chefs; chef Stéphane Bour was doing a demo on a tarte and he said this about agar-agar: it allows you to make a very speedy jam that will retain the flavor of the fruit, so you won’t get that cooked taste.
That’s all I needed to know.
What is agar-agar? It is an algae ( Japan), with a powerful (8 times more than gelatin) jellying property; you can find it at organic food stores (high-end) or Asian markets (low-cost). It is also nutritious and gets rid of toxins, which makes it a diet tool.
Get the agar-agar in powder, not flakes!
How does one use it? boil in a liquid for one minute, then cool. Don’t add acidic things like lemon to the mixture.
To buy agar-agar online, try this Thai products site, or Amazon. I bought mine at the Thai grocer for about a buck.
What are the advantages of using agar-agar versus the traditional method of making jam?
- You can use a lot less sugar!
- It cooks a lot faster!
- 1 basket of strawberries
- 1 basket of raspberries
- rind of half a lemon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of agar-agar (in powder)
- 8 ounces of sugar
Time required: 10 minutes of actual cooking time plus overnight for macerating the fruit in sugar.
- Step one: Clean and hull the strawberries and raspberries. Weigh both; use half that weight in sugar. I had one pound of fruit, so I used 8 ounces of sugar total; cut the fruit up.
- Place the fruit and sugar in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; place in the fridge till the next day.
- Step two: The next day, you will have a lot of juice in that bowl; dump the fruit in a strainer and collect the juice. Boil the juice for 5 minutes.
- Add the fruits to the juice; stir, add the lemon zest if you wish and boil the mixture for 4 minutes.
- Add the agar-agar and mix well; boil for one additional minute.
- Pour into sterilized jars and cool. The jam will keep for 2 months.
NOTE: To sterilize the jars, wash in hot soapy water, rinse, then place in a 300F oven for 20 minutes. Sterilize the lids in simmering water for a few minutes.
Method for the jam comes from: C’est moi qui l’ai fait