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Agar (thickener)

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Agar is a gelling agent extracted from red algae. It is commonly used to stabilize foams (talking culinary gastronomy here) and to thicken or gel liquids.

It doesn’t mirror gelatin 100%, but it’s a great vegan substitution if you are looking for one.  And interestingly enough, it is derived from red algae.

Truthfully, the stuff scared me.  I didn’t understand what it was, why it was used, or most of all… how to use it in my home kitchen.  It seems as though it belonged in a chemistry lab! But after using it a few times and learning just how easy and fun it was to work with, I felt silly that I allowed a little white powder to frighten me so.

Health Benefits

Agar has some great health benefits, even though it isn’t a raw product. It is a good source of calcium and iron and is very high in fiber (water-soluble, indigestible fiber).  In the digestive tract, it absorbs water, increases bulk, and stimulates large bowel muscle contractions. One of agar’s most common therapeutic use has been as a laxative, and it has been used for decades as a daily treatment for chronic constipation.

As it travels through the body, helping with cleaning the pipes… is known for its ability to aid in digestion as well as carrying out the toxic waste out of the body.   It can also help to reduce inflammation, calm the liver, and bring relief to the lungs. Pretty amazing stuff.  And here I thought it was just some odd thickener that you only read about, but never had in the kitchen pantry.

How to use Agar

 Agar – Flake & Powder Form

Agar comes in the form of flakes and powder.

Formula to gel 2 cups of liquid using agar powder:



  1. Soak in 1 cup of liquid for several minutes and then simmer for a couple of minutes until it dissolves.
    • For agar to hydrate correctly, it has to be brought to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the liquid into molds and let it sit at room temperature.

32 thoughts on “Agar (thickener)

  1. Chris says:

    Can you mix agar agar flakes with almondmilk in a vita-mix to make a pudding? If so, how much? THanks

    • amie-sue says:

      Good question, I have no idea Chris. Never tried it before. I would use Irish moss or chia seeds (ground in spice grinder).

  2. Lyeta Herb says:

    Do In cool& refrigerate agar agar before mixing it into recipe?

  3. Shirley says:

    I want to prepare my own agar powder and flakes from raw agar. How do I go about it? Are there books that can help me with it? Thanks.

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Shirley… I have no idea about finding a book just on agar agar. I would think something like that exists in this world of knowledge. Try googling it. :)

  4. Naomi says:

    Hope I don’t sound too silly here. Agar agar is expensive stuff and this is new terrain for me. I have flakes, so after step 1 will I have 1 cup of gel? The additional liquid mentioned in step 2, is that to create a looser gel, before adding to a recipe? Or is the 1 cup of agar gel the recommended amount to thicken 1 cup of liquid in a recipe. And lastly, how much of the basic agar gel is needed to substitute in a recipe calling for Irish moss gel? Thank you so much for clairfying this.

    • amie-sue says:

      Ok Naomi, give me minute to think this through, I just wanted you to know that I here. :) brb

    • amie-sue says:

      Ok Naomi… go back over to the recipe for the cake.. and look in the comment section. I wrote it up for you there so you didn’t have to bounce back and forth. I tried to simplify it for you. :)

  5. Nicole says:

    Interesting, agar-agar is called ‘sea-moss’ here. It’ll be cheaper for me to find a way to use the type we have here…..I remember growing up they soaked it in hot water as well……I’ll let you know how it turns out in taste.

    Do you know how I can be assured it is still raw – looks like a thickened kelp noodle.

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Nicole… I am trailing behind you throughout my site. hehe :)

      What is the name of the sea weed that you are referring to? Irish moss? I need more info to help. :) amie sue

  6. Kathryn Knoll says:

    could I use the kelp noodle gel you talk about in another place here on your site?

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Kathryn,

      Not in all recipes. It will depend on each individual recipe based on the roll and texture that is being desired. If you have a particular recipe, let me know and I can look at it. Kelp paste or Irish moss paste doesn’t set up like agar at all, but if used as a thickener it might. Sorry to be vague but there isn’t a black and white answer. Have a happy day, amie sue

  7. Hans says:

    What would I use to keep liquid out of my vegie chic salad?

  8. Kina says:

    Hi Amie,

    After you pour the liquid into the molds and let it thicken, how do you use it? Does it become like a gel or it thickens a lot? I am curious on how to use it once it’s thick (if I can mix it further with other ingredients.)
    Also, how long can it be kept? Refrigerated?

    Thanks :)

  9. Kina says:

    Thanks! It tasted awesome yes! Have a wonderful week-end too :)

  10. Tim says:

    My main concern with using Agar is that it is from Japan and with all the radiation from Fukushima leaking into the ocean, it makes me very hesitant to use it. Has anyone discovered another ingredient besides carrageenan to help harden cheeses? Thanks!!

    • amie-sue says:

      I would suggest Irish moss Tim, but that too comes from the ocean. Agar creates a unique vegan texture for “cheeses”. There are other products such as gelatins, but they are not vegan. I have other cheese recipes on my site that don’t require agar but the texture is very different. Have a wonderful day, amie sue

  11. pascal says:

    Hello Is it possible to store chocolate mousse, thanks

    • amie-sue says:

      In the fridge it should last 2-5 days. Depends on the recipe and what’s all in it. Blessings and have a great weekend Pascal. amie sue

  12. Karen Ambriz says:

    how much do I use of agar powder to make it a laxative-1 tsp.??? and do I have to boil it first.

    Thank you!


  13. Bosha says:

    here I use it, once the frost is done, I add to a more liquid ingredients to thicken it. Where in a compacte of raw fruit, which tends to render juice, mixing it with the blend with the agar agar jelly, this gives me, a nice cream of fruit whose color is not modified, is delicious …
    Sorry, my English is bad

  14. vegankale7 says:

    Is agar similar to carageenan?

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