Food Additive - See also: Seaweed; Kelp
Agar-agar (now usually just 'agar') was originally a Malay word for a type of local seaweed. Agar is a gelatin-like material extracted from seaweed (red algae, primarily Gelidium and Gracilaria)) by boiling, cooling and drying into flakes, long thin strips or cakes. As a food additive it is rated as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). Its 'gel strength' is very resistant to heat. Agar gels at about 90° F and melts at 185° F.
Agar is also known as Bengal isinglass, Japanese gelatin, kanten, and Ceylon moss.
This additive is used as a texturizing agent, emulsifier, stabilizing agent and thickener in ice cream, sherbets, jellies, soups, sauces, canned soups, and canned meat & fish. It is used as a clarifying agent in winemaking and brewing, to fill the pores in cloth and paper manufacturing ('sizing'), as a medium for growing bacteria; in dentistry and cosmetics; film and adhesives. It is prepared from several species of red algae (or seaweed). It is a vegetable gelatin, and is therefore used by vegetarians because true gelatin is made from calf's feet.