Agar Agar is an algae product valued for its ability to act a bit like gelatin-maybe more than a bit! In fact, one can make the most wobbly of neat gelatin like treats or even somewhat hard gelatin like chews depending on the amount of agar agar used. These chews, as I call them, can be made into different shapes and colors and thrown to the bottom of glasses of iced soy milk for fun's sake...
As you might have already imagined, agar agar is valued by vegans and vegetarians alike. And I have to say that I've even noticed meat eating folks show a lot of enthusiasm towards this product! A lot of people just don't like the idea of gelatin, hooves, and such (smile).
Positives aside, there are two major downfalls to agar agar. First, the price is usually outrageous. Indeed, I just noticed a 1 oz. package of agar agar flakes for $7.49 at my local health food store. Only 1 oz.! Well, I think I've found a solution to this. Maybe. See, I went to my local Asian foods store and found packs of Telephone Brand Agar Agar Powder that were almost 1 oz. packs being sold for a $1.49 each. Powder means more agar agar in comparison to flakes, as recipes that call for 1 tsp. of powder will tell you to double this amount if you have flakes. So I got almost double the amount of product at the Asian store for $6 less!
The second downfall relates to recipe reliability, as recipes for agar agar are difficult to write. This may sounds strange to someone that has never used the product, however, my experience is that I get different results for the same recipe when I use different brands. Hence the recipe below is for Telephone Brand Agar Agar powder. You are more than welcome to try it with a different brand, but I just can't guarantee results! Also, this is kind of a base recipe. If you try it and feel it needs to be more wobbly to meet your taste, just make it with 1/4 teaspoon less agar agar the second time around and so on, etc...
Basic Agar Agar Jello
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Juice (Your Favorite)*
1 Tsp. Telephone Brand Agar Agar Powder
1-2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup (Optional)**
Berries or Cut Fruit
*I used Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Nectarine juice (1 Cup) to get this nice color in combination with a lighter juice.
*I did not use agave, but feel free to add a bit if you are using a very tart juice blend.
Place 1 Cup of juice in a very clean sauté pan with the agar powder and stir. Allow this to sit for about 5 minutes to dissolve. Then turn the heat on and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a large measuring cup. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of juice and stir. If you are using a tart juice, also add the agave and stir. Pour into your favorite dessert dishes or shot glasses and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the counter. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set up for at least 30-40 minutes.
Oh, and in reference to Asian Foods Stores, they are usually a treasure trove of amazing foods. I've also never been to one that wasn't a help to my pocket book ;) So, if you have one nearby, you may want to get familiar if you're not already...
p.s. Yes, you can make vegan alcoholic jello shots with this recipe. Just sub in some rum or tequila, etc. for some of the 1 1/2 cups of juice that is not boiled. And you may definitely want to use the agave as a simple syrup to ensure good flavor!