This Dried Orange Agar-agar is an easy to prepare crystallized orange flavored jelly. It has a sandy texture and is best savored in small pieces.
Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder as is the case with Dried Agar-agar. I had mentioned in my previous post that the last time I ate this dessert was when I was in elementary (primary) school. That was a long, long time ago. Since my rediscovery of this childhood dessert, it seems like I can’t get enough of it. To start with I made a very small batch of the Dried Rose Agar-agar. It was gone in no time at all because the guys enjoyed it as much as I did. That was indeed a pleasant surprise and I decided to make another batch soon after.
Orange Color and Flavor
The Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Apart from the color red, there is no better color to use than gold/orange. To go with the color, it is a no-brainer to use orange as a flavoring for this batch of dried agar-agar. Orange is a well-liked flavor in our family and as I write this, my Dried Orange Agar-agar is again almost gone!
Air Drying this Dried Orange Agar-agar
The climate in Colorado is relatively dry with an average 40% humidity. Things here dry easily and quickly if exposed. Since I used the Dehydrate Setting in my oven to dry the Rose Agar-agar the last time, I was eager to find out if I could leave this Orange Agar-agar to air dry in the house.
To prevent dirt from dropping onto the agar-agar arranged on a wire rack, I placed a sheet of parchment paper over the top. Then, I covered the entire rack with a mesh screen and left it on a table in an airy room. After almost 4 days of air drying, I could see a thin layer of sugar crust forming which means the Dried Agar-agar is ready. I used twice as much sugar this time and so I can definitely see the sugar crust. The texture is also definitely more sandy and quite delightful.
Note: Please do NOT use orange oil or orange extract (which is often made by diluting orange oil in alcohol) to intensify the flavor because the agar-agar mixture will turn into an colloid and will not set. I made that mistake once and I don’t want you to make that same mistake. Simply use more freshly squeezed orange juice and reduce the amount of water for a stronger orange flavor.
Sun Drying the Agar-agar
If you live in the tropics or in a place where the average humidity is above 50%, air drying indoors will NOT work. You will need to sun dry the agar-agar outdoors. Depending on how much sun you get, it may take up to 4 days of sun drying. Do the same by arranging the pieces of agar-agar on a wire rack. Then place a piece of parchment paper over the top and cover the entire rack with a mesh screen in a sunny spot on your patio. Another option is to use a Food Dehydrator which is pretty affordable these days.
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Dried Orange Agar-agar
- 1¾ cups water (420ml)
- 1 packet agar-agar powder (2 tbsp/12g)
- 1½ cups sugar (315g)
- ½ cup orange juice (120ml)
- A few drops orange food coloring
- Combine water, agar-agar powder, sugar, orange juice, and orange food coloring in a medium saucepan.
- Place saucepan on the stove on medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar and agar-agar powder dissolve.
- Bring mixture to a boil. Give it a good stir. Turn off stove.
- Pour agar-agar mixture into a 7 in x 5 inch tray. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to the refrigerator and allow agar-agar jelly to set for 1 hour.
- Unmold agar-agar jelly and cut into 1 in x ½ in thick pieces using a crinkle cutter.
- Arrange pieces of agar-agar jelly on a 15 in x 10 in wire rack. Place a piece of parchment paper on the top.
- Allow agar-agar to dry indoors in dry climates or outdoors in the sun until a layer of sugar crust appears. This will take several days, usually between 3 to 4 days. Make sure to cover the agar-agar jelly with a muslin cloth or mesh food screen when drying indoors or outdoors.
- Remove from oven and place into air tight containers.
A Delightful Treat
If you have never tasted Dried Agar-agar, I recommend that you give it a try. It really is a treat different from fruit gummies or crystallized candies you buy at the stores. You can control the amount of sugar and ingredients going into these candies. Homemade treats are truly the best!