Agar Flakes - Clearspring 28g details and description
Clearspring Agar Agar Flakes are a high quality vegetarian / vegan alternative to gelatin for making desserts, jellies and aspics. They are free from chemical bleaching agents and prepared in the traditional way in Japan by cooking sea vegetables until soft then naturally freeze drying them outside in the winter sun and snow. Clearspring's producer for the agar flakes is Mizoguchi Kanten, Nagano
Agar is known as 'kanten' in Japanese. It translates literally as 'cold sky', in virtue of its quite unique and fascinating production process which can only take place in the deepest winter, and only in certain mountainous areas of Japan, where there is abundant snow and sunshine in the same season.
The process begins at the sea, where selected red sea plants of the Gelidium species are harvested and dried in the autumn. Bundled up and taken to the mountains where the Mizoguchi (the family that create Clearspring's Agar) shop is, they are kept until the heart of winter when the production process can begin.
First, the sea vegetables are washed to remove the extra salt and any seashells, and then they are reconstituted by soaking in water for over 3 to 4 days during which time the water is constantly changed. They are then cooked in water inside of a giant cauldron for 4 hours and then left overnight, to extract a thick, jelly-like substance. The cooled gel is then filtered to separate it from the fibers of the sea vegetables. The filtered gel is then poured in plastic trays to set, then cut into thick bars using a special sharp rake-like cutter, with 22 bars to a tray.
Each bar is then placed onto a bamboo mat and carefully put outside in snow covered dormant rice fields where they will stay for up to 4 weeks, depending on the weather.
During these weeks, an amazing natural process occurs: during the cold winter nights the water contained in the bars freezes, and ice will form on the surface. During the days the ice thaws and the resulting water evaporates: the agar bars are slowly and naturally drying. Over this long natural process, the water content will reduce from 99% to 1%, leaving just the porous and light bars of pure agar.
The resulting dried bars are then packed and sold in Japan with no further process step. For export, the product is shipped as bars simply shaved into convenient flakes.Before it is freeze-dried, fresh agar, called “tokoroten” in Japanese, is enjoyed as a popular delicacy in Japan. It is cut and served as a cold noodle often with a sweet or vinegared broth.
The Mizoguchi family, first established in 1934, repeats this above process over sixty times every year but only between December and February, thus producing over 900 000 bars. In former times, the Mizoguchi family was just one of over 200 companies manufacturing agar in the Nagano region. Now it is one of the few remaining families to eschew the modern processes for making the agar in freezing containers and using bleaches, and to instead carry on using this traditional, centuries-old nature based method.
One tablespoon of agar flakes can gelatinize 240ml. This box contains 28g agar flakes than can set 1650ml of liquid. If the liquid being used is acidic then more agar flakes would be needed.
Sprinkle over the liquid in a saucepan before heating. Heat without stirring, then simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flakes dissolve. Pour into a mould and cool to set
Ingredients: agar sea vegetable (Gelidum and Gracilaria spp).
Made in Japan
For recipes using Clearspring's agar flakes please click on this link.