Friday, March 8, 2013

Delicacy for man and the microbe, the Agar-Agar!

Kids in 1970s enjoyed their summer holidays freed from the school classes and exams. I enjoyed a vacation by doing a small business :) I bought a few grams of a white substance from the mall, ground it into powder; soaked it overnight in a plate full of water. At morning I was delighted to see the plate full of a jelly-like delicacy. I added colourant and sugar to it and then, the delicacy was ready for sales to the boys and girls! What is that substance that I used?
It is the Agar-Agar (Japanese isinglass, China grass, Kanten, 'Kadal paasi' in Tamil). It is got from the sea algae like Gellidium amansii and Gracilaria lichenoides (Red Algae). 

 Agar-agar is a mixture of the polysaccharide, Agarose and Agaropectin. When soaked in water it grows into a voluminous gel unbelievably greater than its original size! It is used worldwide in dishes like jelly, pudding, ice cream and soup [local (Madurai) famous dish, 'Jigarthanda' contains agar-agar]. It is also used as a culture medium for growing bacteria and fungi in Microbiology laboratories for finding out diseases in humans. As it has a good fibre content, it has been also used in the treatment of constipation.
It is a wonder medium of diet that has crept in our daily diet without our knowledge!

1 comment:

h e m a n t h said...

Another take-away for me is that you have been a science-geek since childhood, dad! :)

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