Substituting Agar for Gelatin

by Terre M
(North Little Rock, AR)

I have a question for vegans, and would appreciate input. I have made a gelatin based salad every Thanksgiving using an old family recipe, and some of my family are now vegans.


The ingredients are 2 oz. unflavored powdered gelatin (soaked and melted over hot water), 20 oz. crushed pineapple with its juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 chopped orange, and 1 cup ginger ale.

Can I make this using agar agar without boiling? Boiling would take the fizz out of the ginger ale. Is there any other alternative to make this acceptable to vegans? I would love to serve this to my family! Suggestions?

Answer:
It's awesome you're looking to convert this family favorite recipe to be vegan. I am positive your family will appreciate any effort you make to do this for them. (For anyone reading who doesn't know, gelatin is made of animal hooves, bones, cartilage, and skin and boiled down to a thick mixture that easily gels.)

I actually think you can make this recipe work pretty easily, but would love to hear how it works. For the conversion, you can substitute agar in for gelatin in equal amounts, 1:1. Keep in mind that this means for agar powder. If you have agar flakes, you will need to use more of them, 1 Tablespoon of agar flakes is equal to 1 teaspoon of agar powder.

For each two cups of liquid you use, you'll want 2 teaspoons of agar powder (or 2 Tablespoons of agar flakes.)

I read that highly acidic things like lemon juice and pineapple might need more agar agar to set properly, so you might want to use more for this recipe. Also, you could try just reheating the whole thing if it doesn't set properly, adding more agar and letting it go again.

You could also try using vegan jello to substitute in for the regular one. There are a few options on Amazon, like this one: Bakol Jel.

As far as the fizziness of the ginger ale, what I do when I make yogurt is I add the agar, bring it to a boil and drop it to a simmer, then later add in other ingredients that are not going to be boiled. I would imagine you'd do the same with this recipe. Add it in at the end of your recipe.

Does anyone else have other ideas? And, Terre, tell us how it works and share the recipe!

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