Agar or agar-agar is a gelatinous substance that is made from seaweed or other algae. It has several scientific uses but is also used in culinary dishes as well. The most common forms of agar consist of two substances called agarose and agaropectin. These are forms of carbohydrates and polysaccharides that are combined to create the agar. Agar is primarily created from two types of seaweed known as gelidium and gracilaria. They are found quite abundantly in Asia and on the western coast of the United States. The seaweed are harvested and then processed until they are formed into a soft gel. Here are some of the most common uses for agar in the science and culinary industries:
Edible versions of agar are sold in grocery or health food stores as a vegetarian alternative for some gelatin type foods. It can be used to create many different culinary dishes.
Agar in Cooking
One of the primary uses of agar in cooking is as a thickening agent. It can be used in candies, jellies, and soups. Some of the commonly found foods that contain agar include jelly beans, pudding, and even pies.
Agaras an Egg Replacement
Agar also serves as a great replacement for eggs in many recipes. While many recipes that call for eggs can simply have the powdered agar added instead, those that include vinegar, rhubarb, chocolate or spinach often require reconstituting or mixing with water, the agar first.
Agar in Science
In scientific fields, agar is used in many different studies including microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. In these fields agar is used as a growth medium for bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. It is used to create a agar dish, or agar lining in a Petri dish.
Agar in Experiments
Because agar does not feed any one specific type of microorganism, it is an ideal substance for use in doing unobserved experiments. Agar is often used by students for at home scientific experiments.
Agar is available in many different forms. It can be purchased in the gel like substance, it can be found in granulated or powder versions. Agar when used as a culinary ingredient is also found to have health benefits. Because it has no sugars, fats, or carbohydrates and is high in protein it is a great additive for a healthy diet. It has been found to absorb glucose and to help with insulin related problems. It has also been shown to be a beneficial aid to a good digestive system as it helps to absorb vile and can act as a mild laxative helping to ensure a healthy digestive tract. A well knows additive used by those who choose a vegan or vegetarian diet, agar can be a great addition to many recipes and add new health benefits, meanwhile it’s other duty is to help in the lab during many different experiments.
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