Monday, March 1, 2010
For the next month I will be voluntarily giving up a variety of my favorite substances in an effort to head off the allergies that plagued me last summer. I'm cutting out wheat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, soy, some fruits, corn, and (drum roll please!)...sugar.
I plan to continue blogging (while trying to ignore the throbbing temptation emanating from my archive of treats gone by). I'll be posting items that have been languishing in my draft folder, some features on sweets-related objects, and, wherever possible, writing about treats that satisfy my sweet spot without containing refined sugar.
Today I made a vegan jelly from apple juice and agar. While seaweed-derived agar is often suggested as a gelatin substitute, I find that the key to enjoying agar is to banish all thoughts of jello. Because it has a different structure and a much higher melting point, agar jelly has a peculiar mouthfeel; in an earlier post, I likened it to eating "very soft glass". I found that cutting the jelly into small cubes mitigated the odd texture.
Agar (known as kanten in Japan) is available in long bars, flakes, and powder; I find the last two to be easier to work with. You can find it at health food stories, or, more cheaply, at Asian markets.
4 c unsweetened apple juice
4 scant tsp agar powder (or 4 scant Tbs agar flakes)
Gently heat the juice in a saucepan. Sprinkle in the agar and stir until the juice comes to a boil. Lower the heat. While stirring, simmer the juice until the agar is completely melted (4-5 minutes). Pour into a pan and allow to set (agar will set at room temperature). When cool, cut into pieces and store in the refrigerator.