Agar Jellies

Appears in

Chocolates and Confections

By Peter Greweling

Published 2007

  • About

Agar (see Comparison of Various Binding Agents table) is a simple-to-use hydrocolloid that produces a thermoreversible clear gel with a very short texture. Agar gel does not melt at, or anywhere near, body temperature. Once gelled, agar jellies do not melt until they are heated to approximately 65° to 72°C/150° to 160°F. Agar’s characteristic hysteresis—setting at 30° to 40°C/86° to 105°F and melting at a much higher temperature—makes it an easy gelling agent to use in confectionery, as there is little likelihood of a gel forming prematurely. The high melting point and short texture of agar jellies are not always popular with American consumers. However, the shortness can be moderated by using a fairly high percentage of 42-DE glucose syrup in formulation, to provide more body to the finished confection. Agar does not require acid or high dissolved solids to set, as pectin does, and is not adversely affected by protease enzymes, as gelatin is. It is, however, hydrolyzed by exposure to acid at high temperatures. Acidic flavorings such as fruit purées must be added after cooking is completed, or the agar will be degraded and will not gel properly. Agar is a powerful binding agent; it is used at a rate of approximately 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the finished confection. The strength of the gel that agar produces varies depending on the place of origin of the agar, and there is no specification for its strength, as there is for gelatin and pectin. Once the formulations for agar jellies have been perfected using agar from one source, it is advisable to continue to use agar from the same source.