The hydrocolloid substances are all those substances that can create gel and can be used in many ways.

The main gelling agents have animal origin: the animal gelatin and the isinglass.

We find them in many products, such as photographic film or as a coat for vitamins capsules. Certainly the most familiar use is in the cooking recepies.

The animal gelatin is obtained by boiling skin, bones, ligaments and tendons of animals, usually cows or pigs.

Instead the isinglass is a gelatin that is extracted from the bladder and the cartilage of sturgeon or similar fish.

We can find animal jellies in many products for personal care, such as shampoos, face masks and other cosmetics.

Another use, less known but very widespread, is the wine clarification process. This process could be made using animal-derived products. Animal products, in addition to the mentioned gelatins, can include blood and bone marrow, chitin – a fiber from crustacean shells, casein and egg albumen.

So a product that contain these types of gelatins can not be considered vegan.

Fortunately there is a great variety of substances that have the same properties of the gelatin but don’t have animal origin, so they are suitable to vegan diet.

The main ones include the citrus pectin, starch and agar-agar.

The pectin, despite of its natural origin, it is extracted through an industrial distillation and concentration process. Otherwise, the starch is simply obtained by using the water and a mechanical centrifugation to separate the starch from the gluten. However, it can not always be used in cooking preparation as alternative to animal gelatins.

The agar-agar is a gelatin extracted from cooked and pressed seaweed and it is available flaked, powdered, in wires, or in its extremely purified version, such as sodium alginate and carrageenan.

Only the agar-agar in flakes or wires form is obtained through a natural process: sun drying or boiling in water or vinegar. The other versions require an industrial extraction process.

Even for the production of vegan wine can be used fining agents that are animal-friendly, as limestone, carbon or silica gel.

The vegetable gelatins can be used for various cooking recepies, including the classic candy. Try this one!


V. Bolzoni


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200 gr of brown sugar

4 tablespoons of lemon juice

10 tablespoons of juice or fresh fruit pureed (choose your favourite taste!)

3 teaspoons of agar-agar

Blend the agar-agar it in a little water, put it on the heat for 2-3 minutes until it is thickened.

In the meantime, put the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of lemon and 10 tablespoons of fruit juice (or fruit) and boil for 5 minutes (or until the sugar has melted). Remove from heat, add the agar-agar and stir well.

Fill the molds (for example molds for ice cubes) or put it into a single mold. Put the mold in the fridge for a couple of hours or more. Remove the candy from the mold and cut into small pieces.

Cover the candies with sugar.

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