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LA Times: Gourmet Jello Shots (vegetarian alternative?)

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This is a great read and a great idea!! The pictures made me crave a good gelee. I'd love to serve these at a party.


However, I am a vegetarian and am looking to adapt these recipes. I understand agar agar is a veg alternative to gelatin. Does anyone have experience cooking with agar agar? Can anyone offer tips on cooking with agar agar? I wonder if it is available at Whole Foods...

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I just want to say thanks for showing us all this article1 Those jello shots look awesome! I apologize for not having helpful advice on cooking with agar agar.

    1. yes, it is available at whole foods...and erewhon, rainbow acres, wild oats...a lot of natural food stores carry it. it's sold as a powder, and you can use it as a direct replacement.

      1. How about the plain gelatin sold in Kosher markets? I keep a kosher house, and saw the article today too, and thought about the plain kosher gelatin

        1 Reply
        1. re: paprkutr

          Hi Paprkutr,

          Unfortunately kosher gelatin is not necessarily vegetarian, as kosher gelatin is "typically" made from fish bones. I'm not sure what kind of vegetarian the poster is, but if she eats fish then this could be a viable option for her. Otherwise, she should steer clear. Thanks!

        2. Agar agar is really fun to work with. If you have any asian groceries near you they sell agar for cheap. It is available as powder or flakes and some other forms but I think powdered is easiest. I believe that it can be used in an equal ratio as that of regular gelatin (you replace the gelatin in direct exact measurements.) Some people do add a tiny bit less than they would gelatin as agar sets up a bit differently. Sometimes at asian grocers it is marketed as seaweed or algae extract (caregeenan or something); not sure if it's the exact same as agar but does the same thing.

          5 Replies
          1. re: digkv

            Mary Jane's Farm sells a veg alternative called ChillOver Powder.


            Agar stuff has a different, more solid texture than gelatin. It's not bad, just different.

            1. re: willownt

              Oh my! Could this be the substitute I've been looking for in order to make vegetarian marshmallows from scratch?

              1. re: Laura D.

                I haven't tried it, but I read about it in her Farmgirl book, and she was a major fan of traditional jello salad type things and wanted something that gave that taste/feel while without the meat. Sounded promising for jelled desserts. Jello shots, on the other hand, are preposterous.

                1. re: willownt

                  Sounds like it is worth testing as nothing else I've tried has worked!

            2. re: digkv

              carrageenan is not the same thing as agar, but they do have similar gelling properties...and they're both vegetarian.

            3. awesome article! A grown-up version of jello shots, I suppose, as taking out a cookie tray full of paper dixie cups with cherry/vodka jello-shots at a grown-up cocktail party seems a bit like one hasn't left college-life just yet. I'll have to experiment. I too have no advice with cooking with agar agar- sorry! Good luck!

              1. You have to play around with agar agar a bit because it well tend to give your stuff a stiffer, less bouncy feel. Gelatin can be dissolved in warm water, while agar agar needs rather hot water to dissolve (like around 140 F to almost boiling), however it sets pretty quickly compared to gelatin. Of course at those temperatures you might have boiled off the alcohol.

                You are also suppose to be able to use guar gum, carageen (spelling) as a gelatin substitute but I don't have any experience with those.

                As for marshmallows, I haven't had any luck making vegetarian version, that is acceptable.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chocolateman

                  while guar gum is technically a gelling agent, it's more appropriate and effective as a thickener than a true gelatin. and carrageenan isn't quite as standard of a gelatin replacement as agar...different properties/consistencies.

                  best bets: if willing to eat a fish product, use kosher gelatin. if not, use agar.

                2. Kosher gelatin is made from dry pig matter! Here is the article, . .Sad! Dry Bones and Jell-O™ « Ask The Rabbi « Ohr Somayach