Agar vs Gelatin | Big Differences Between Agar and Gelatin

Agar vs Gelatin | Table of Contents

Agar vs Gelatin The Major Differences Between Agar and Gelatin

1. What is Agar?

Agar, also called agar-agar and kanten, is a jelly-like substance made from red seaweeds, with a E number of E406, and is a kind of plant-based hydrocolloid.

What is Agar

2. What is Gelatin?

Gelatin or gelatine is a natural animal protein, one kind of translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, commonly derived from collagen taken from animal body parts.

What is Gelatin

Part 1: Major Differences Between Agar vs Gelatin

Agar and gelatin are not the same. The main differences between agar vs gelatin are different sources, different compositions, different forms, different physical properties, different applications, different prices, etc.

Agar vs Gelatin

Different Sources

Agar is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweeds of the genus Gelidium and Gracilaria, and is one of the most widely used algal gums in the world.
Gelatin is a white or yellowish, translucent, slightly shiny flake or powder made from the degradation of collagen in connective tissues such as animal skin, bone and muscle membrane.

Different Compositions

Agar is composed of Agarose and Agaropectin. Agarose as a gelling agent is a non-ionic polysaccharide without sulfate (salt), which is a component of gel formation, and its macromolecular chains are linked by 1,3 glycosidic bonds with alternating β-D-galactose residues and 3,6-endo-L-galactose residues.
Gelatin contains about 16% of water and inorganic salts and more than 82% of protein. Similar to the parent collagen, gelatin is composed of 18 amino acids, with a high content of the subamino acids Pro and Hyp.
The triple helix structure in gelatin gels is mainly maintained by intramolecular hydrogen bonding and hydrogen bonding hydration, and the -NH of Pro and -OH of Hyp can form hydrogen bonds with other amino acid side chain groups and water molecules, which facilitate the stability of the triple helix structure.

Different Forms

Agar body is dry, bright white, clean and transparent, elastic, tough and strong. It is mainly divided into agar powder, agar strips and agar bars.
Gelatin is a white or light yellow, translucent, slightly glossy flake or powder or granule. It is a colorless, odorless, non-volatile, transparent and hard non-crystalline substance.

Different Physical Properties

Insoluble in cold water, can absorb water equivalent to 20 times its own volume. It is readily soluble in boiling water, and dilutions remain liquid at 42°C (108°F), but solidify into a tight jelly at 37°C.
It needs to be heated to 95℃ in water before it starts to melt, and the temperature of the melted solution needs to be lowered to 40℃ before it starts to solidify, so it is the best coagulant for preparing solid medium.
Soluble in hot water, insoluble in cold water, but can slowly absorb water to swell and soften, gelatin can absorb water equivalent to 5~10 times of its weight.
Gelatin solution can form a gel with certain hardness and cannot flow.
When the gelatin gel is stimulated by the environment, the gel will respond, i.e., when the composition of the solution, pH, ionic strength changes and the stimulation signal such as temperature, light intensity, electric field changes, or when it is stimulated by specific chemical substances, the gel will undergo sudden changes and show phase transition behavior.

Different Applications

Agar has an extremely useful and unique property in food industry applications. It can be used as thickener, coagulant, suspending agent, emulsifier, preservative and stabilizer. It is widely used in the manufacture of various beverages, jellies, ice creams, pastries, soft candies, canned food, meat products, porridge, jelly food, cold food and so on.
Gelatin is divided into edible gelatin, pharmaceutical gelatin, industrial gelatin, photographic gelatin, as well as skin gelatin and bone gelatin according to the production raw materials, production methods and product quality, and different product uses.

Different Prices

The raw material of agar is high quality marine red algae, most of which are imported. Seaweeds are greatly affected by climate, and the quality and yield are unstable.

Moreover, the output rate of agar made from seaweeds is low and the process is complicated.

Therefore, the price of agar is higher than that of gelatin, about twice as much as gelatin.

However, the gel strength of agar is very high, so the amount added is also lower than that of gelatin.

Agar vs Gelatin_ Can You Substitute Gelatin for Agar

Part 2: Agar vs Gelatin: Can You Substitute Gelatin for Agar?

Different Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel is very important to consumers, and it affects their desire to buy.

Gelatin has a softer and more elastic texture than agar, and agar has a harder texture than gelatin.

If agar is used for making mousse and other desserts, the tender taste is completely lost. Likewise, if gelatin is used for making desserts such as yōkan cold cake, the texture loses its firmness.

Different Solidifying Point

Agar solidifies at 40 degrees Celsius or below, while gelatin must be refrigerated to solidify.

Compared to gelatin, agar is much more difficult to dissolve and requires boiling water and boiling for a few minutes to completely melt in the water, and once the temperature drops below 40 degrees Celsius, the agar will immediately solidify.

Gelatin is mostly used in mousse, pudding and other desserts, where the mixing temperature is low. If agar is used instead, it will solidify into lumps before it is mixed well (especially when it is mixed with whipped light cream and so on) and cannot be mixed evenly.

Different Storage Temperature

The temperature at which the two products are stored is different.

Desserts made with agar can be placed directly at room temperature even in the hot summer (e.g., yōkan cold cake in supermarkets is usually packed and placed directly on the shelf).

Desserts made with gelatin, on the other hand, need to be kept refrigerated to prevent melting.

Different Mouthfeel, Different Solidifying Point, Different Storage Temperature

Above is the introduction and main difference between agar vs gelatin. If you are interested in plant-based hydrocolloids, especially agar, please contact us.

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About Gino Biotech

We are a biotech company specializing in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative and technological food additives hydrocolloids Agar Agar, Carrageenan, and Tailor-Made Stabilizer Solutions.

With the extended know-how and experience in the research, application, and use of Hydrocolloids, we could provide one-stop-shop customized solutions perfectly matched to the needs of our customers.

Our products cover the needs of the Meat, Dairy, Bakery, Confectionery, and other industrial sectors.

Contact our sales representative for more information

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