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May 8, 2012 12:03 PM


I have been making veggie saltenas ( think empanadas with a soupy dumpling/broth filling)

The difficulty has been in my gelatin. I opted for agar agar because it was a pain to find kosher gelatin and it was expensive.

My saltena had a smoked oyster mushroom broth with Bolivian chile's some quinoa and mushrooms eggplant and squash.. diced small.

My first go i used 2025 kg of liquid including the veggies and quinoa. i used 10 grams of agar agar.
i also used a lil xanthan to add some body to the broth.. the wateryness bothered me.

Came out great but lack of broth was noticeable.

Second attempt i used the same 2025 and used 9 grams of agar agar... relatively the same results.
used less xanthan this time as well.

Took to some experimentation and used 2025 of water and used 6 grams of agar. IT almost set but i think i disturbed it and it didnt fully set.

So now i have one batch ready to go.. same grams... and used eggplant to add the body to the broth

I was thinking of going with 7 grams agar.. but then i realized maybe agar is the problem.. I read it doesnt fully disolve.. gets a little chewy etc.

Maybe carageenan is a better solution ?

Either way.. i just want some juicyness in my saltenas without using animal gelatin.

any thoughts?



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  1. it is possible i may have been using way too much agar.

    i saw this

    •Use the ratio of 100ml of neutral liquid to 0.9g of powdered agar agar

    but that seems like way too much for what i needed

    1. I'm not certain I'm understanding you - you want to make an empanada filling that is juicy like a soup dumpling? If that's the case, I suspect you'll have an easier time finding kosher gelatin (it's available online) than getting a similar effect from agar agar or carageenan. The main reason gelatin is used for this kind of thing is its low melting temperature - gelled broth liquefies when cooked and stays liquid as it's served. Agar agar, by contrast, has a very high melting point and a fairly high gelling point. A high melting point means that the internal temperature of the saltena must be raised to at least that point - which might be problematic or difficult. A gelling point much above body temperature is problematic because the liquid will gel again as it's being served unless you expect your food to be eaten burn-your-tongue hot.

      Carrageenan melts and gels a little lower than agar agar, but still significantly higher than gelatin. It seems to be a little more variable in gelling and melting temperatures - perhaps a little unpredictable unless you're very familiar with whatever particular carrageenan you're using. Both agar agar and carrageenan have the potential to change the texture/mouthfeel of the broth a little bit as well.

      You might be able to make carrageenan work if you're lucky. I haven't used it as much as agar and gelatin, so it's hard to say first hand, and I certainly haven't used it for this kind of application. But I think you'll save yourself some grief by just biting the bullet and buying some kosher gelatin online.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        i have some kosher gelatin.. kojel and another and they are both made with carageenan. Is there another option out there that will give me a lower melting point for the juicyness to return to the saltena?

        and yes.. the saltena's have a gelatinized stew inside that once you bite into them.. drips and oozes lots of goodness.

        the only other kind of kosher gelatin i have heard of is from fish bones.


        1. re: lestblight

          "the only other kind of kosher gelatin i have heard of is from fish bones"
          I had assumed that was what you were talking about. "Kosher gelatin" that's actually carrageenan isn't gelatin.

          Are you trying to develop a vegetarian recipe (thus any kind of gelatin, which all comes from meat or fish, won't do)? If so, you can try carrageenan, but like I said, I'm not convinced it would work. The other option would be to simply freeze the liquid and filling before filling the saltenas.