Are you a cooking enthusiast who loves experimenting with different ingredients? If so, you’ve probably heard of guar gum and agar agar, two popular gelling agents used in many recipes. But, have you ever wondered how they compare? What is the difference between guar gum vs agar agar?
While agar agar is less common than guar gum and about 50 times more expensive, it’s derived from seaweed and shares many similarities with guar gum. Both are vegan-friendly and can be used as a gelling agent, and in situations of scarcity, they can be used in place of each other.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the differences between these two ingredients.
Guar gum is derived from guar plants, while agar agar is made from a particular species of algae. While both can be used as a stabilizer or thickener, their unique characteristics make them suitable for different recipes.
So, let’s explore how guar gum differs from agar agar in detail and take your culinary creations to the next level!
What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum, also known as guaran, is a polysaccharide extracted from guar beans used to thicken and stabilize foods.
Their seeds are usually dehusked, hydrated, and milled mechanically. It provides health benefits, including digestion, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and weight maintenance.
What Is Agar Agar?
Agar-agar is a jelly-like substance gotten from red algae. It is recommended that it should be taken with a lot of water because it can cause inflammation of the esophagus. At low temperatures, agar gel has an opaque texture, which is chewy.
Guar Gum Vs Agar Agar: Notable Differences
Below are the major differences between guar gum and agar agar:
Guar gum is 50 times cheaper than agar as it is readily available in grocery stores, especially in countries like China and Japan.
As gelling agents, the ingredient from seaweed, agar, has properties that are very similar to guar gum, but they are better in binding food particles together. Agar is valued as an essential ingredient because it helps create pliable textures.
When the agar is mixed with water, it forms a gel-like substance used by bakers to make bread chewier and increase the doughs’ elasticity. But excessive use of it can make loaves of bread soggy, so they need to be used in precisely the same quantity stated in the recipe.
Can I Use Agar Agar Instead Of Guar Gum?
Yes, agar can be used in place of guar gum, but guar gum is considered the best vegan alternative because it thickens naturally and does not require heat, however, it can still retain its thickening properties when still heated.
It is also beneficial for gluten-free recipes apart from being only valuable for vegans. It is suitable for pasta, bread, cakes, and baked food recipes. Guar gum is also convenient for chefs because when compared to the cost of getting agar and most vegan thickeners, it is relatively cheaper.
Also, when gluten-free flour is infused with guar gum, it keeps the products firm and prevents them from losing shape. So, if you’re on the lookout for a vegan food stabilizer and thickener, guar gum is one of the best you can find.
Is Xanthan Gum and Agar Agar the Same?
Xanthan gum and agar are not similar, but xanthan gum can be an excellent substitute for the agar. Xanthan gum will not harden your recipes the way agar will, but it certainly keeps the particles together and prevent them from separating.
Can I Use Guar Gum Instead of Gelatin?
Guar gum is a good substitute for gelatin because it looks similar when blended with water. It is very effective in vegan and gluten-free recipes because the dough becomes pliable and more accessible to shape without cracking. After all, guar gum has solid binding abilities.
Another paramount importance of guar gum that gives it an edge over other substitutes is converting a non-vegetarian dish to a vegan dish within seconds of usage. It improves the feel of vegan dishes giving it a creamy mouthfeel even when no dairy product is used.