A traditional alternative to gelatin with some surprising advantages
What is it? Carrageenan is a gelling agent extracted from a type of red seaweed that is now primarily grown in the Philippines but is also native to the north Atlantic coast. It has been used as a culinary ingredient for centuries and is the main ingredient [...]
What is it?
Locust bean gum (aka carob or E410) is a thickening and stabilising agent extracted from the seeds of the carob tree which grow in Mediterranean countries. It has been known for its thickening properties since ancient times but it was only in the 20th century that it was used commercially. Locust bean gum [...]
What is it?
Guar gum (E412) is a fine power made from grinding up guar beans which are principally grown in India and Pakistan. It can be used as a thickener, emulsifier and stabiliser.
How does it work?
Guar gum impedes the movement of water molecules, allowing it to act as a very effective thickening agent. In fact, [...]
Gellan gum (or E418) is a versatile gelling agent that can produce a wide variety of textures varying from firm, brittle gels that crumble in the mouth, to fluid or elastic gels (depending on conditions & type used). It can also be used as a thickening, stabilising and suspending agent. It sets exceptionally fast [...]
A very effective thickening agent which displays unique gelling properties in that it gels on heating and melts on cooling, in the opposite way to gelatine. In addition, methylcellulose can act as an emulsifier and be used to form foams, mousses and edible films. Also, methylcellulose can reduce the uptake of batter during frying and [...]
A thickening and gelling agent that forms heat stable gels in the presence of calcium. This property allows cooks to make small gelled spheres, in a technique known as spherification. Sodium alginate has been used in the food industry for many years for the production of gel-like foods – for example, the pimento stuffing in [...]
Agar is a vegetarian gelling agent derived from dried seaweed. Although some agar is wild harvested, it is more commonly farmed commercially.
Like gelatine, agar is thermo-reversible but at much higher temperatures, and it has around 5 times the setting properties – so much less is needed. Unlike gelatine, agar sets at room temperature but will hold its shape when hot.
Heat the carrot juice and add the gellan, bring to the boil, whisking to incorporate the gellan. Pour into a mould and leave to set.
Melt the Parmesan cheese in a hot non-stick frying pan, remove and cut into strips. Leave to cool until they are crispy.
Salt the mackerel fillets, leave for 10 minutes then rinse and dry.
Heat the white wine vinegar, add the spices and sugar, bring to the boil then leave to cool. Strain and pour into a plastic container. Add the mackerel fillets and leave to pickle for 20 minutes.
Bring the beetroot juice to the boil, season with salt then add the gellan. Pour into moulds and leave to set.
Serve with thinly sliced goat’s cheese and watercress.