Strange Gels

There are two things in the kitchen that I’ve been looking for a way to use (actually, there are many– but here’s two):

  • Cherry-balsamic vinegar
  • Agar

The first we bought from Olio, with a gift certificate from my sister. The latter was acquired through a shady exchange with Matt. I won’t say much, but chickens were involved.

On a long drive home from Lancaster, PA, I decided that I would try combining them. A chewy cherry-balsamic candy sounded at least interesting. I did a little reading up on Agar, and learned that combining a solution with 2% Agar (by weight) should produce a stiff gel.

The ingredients for this first attempt:

  • 90g
  • 55g water
  • 1.25 tsp agar
  • 30g sugar

(this doesn’t represent any sort of plan– just keeping track of stuff as I added it)

I mixed everything up, heated it on the stovetop until it started boiling, and poured it into a small bowl.

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After it cooled, it only took a little bit of work with a knife to loosen it enough to fall out, a little like canned cranberry sauce, but more solid:

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It wasn’t any more appetizing-looking in person. I cut it into small pieces, and tried a little.

It was… OK. The first thing you taste is the fruit, followed by a little bit of acidic, vinegar bite. I didn’t love the texture (kind of grainy). It also wasn’t entirely dry. I thought I might fix that with a dusting of powdered sugar, but it didn’t really help. The sugar had turned into  sticky soup by the next morning.

After drying on paper towels for a few hours, they were less wet and sticky, and I was still basically happy with the taste.

If I try this again, I’d experiment with:

  • More agar
  • no (or less) water
  • hard candy

 

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