Kanten fruit jelly is a pretty and delicious Japanese summer dessert. This dessert recipe is super easy to make using Kanten powder. Read on to learn all about Kanten. What is it made of, where to get it from and finally how to use it to make delicious and healthy desserts.
What is Kanten Jelly?
Kanten is processed and dried seaweed such as Tengusa (in the photo). It has been used for making Wagashi (Japanese confectionery) such as Anmitsu and Raindrop cake since the Edo period. Nowadays, it is widely used not only for food but also in medical and scientific fields such as wafers ingredient and bacterial culture media.
What does this Jelly Taste Like?
Kanten does not have any taste. It has a solidifying effect and so it is useful to make Fruit Jelly, I used Apple juice to give a fruity flavour to it. This jelly has a firm but crumbly texture.
So What is it Made of Exactly?
Kanten is made from Tengusa (red algae) also known as Agar or agar agar. Tengusa is harvested in the area Shizuoka, Mie (where I lived for over 10 years), Wakayama (where I was born & raised) prefecture and also the Korean Peninsula. Kanten Agar is obtained by boiling seaweed such as Tengusa, freezing the viscous liquid and then drying it.
Three Types of Kanten
- Stick Agar: Agar in stick form. You can use it by tearing and softening it by soaking in water.
- Ito Agar: Agar in thread-like form. This type also requires softening by soaking in water.
- Agar Powder: Agar in powder form. Agar powder does not require soaking in water for preparation. It dissolves in water easily therefore it is prepared in a shorter time than stick and thread agar.
What is this Seaweed By-product Good For?
It has been in the spotlight as a healthy food in Japan. This is mostly because this jelly is rich in plant dietary fibre unlike gelatin which is made from animal proteins. It is a great alternative to gelatin for Vegans and Vegetarians. Also, it is ultra-low in calories. It contains only 3 kcal in 3.5 oz (100g). So many Japanese eat Kanten for diet and also to eliminate constipation.
Where to buy this product?
Kanten sticks, Ito Kanten and Kanten Powder are available from Japanese/Asian grocery stores if you have them nearby. If not, they are available from online stores such as Amazon.
Difference Between Kanten & Gelatine
In my Japanese sweets recipe post, Anmitsu, this jelly is also used and I discussed the difference between Kanten, Gelatine and Agar (made from other seaweeds). Check out the chart if you are interested.
Tips to Use Kanten Agar Powder
- The amount of the agar powder is 1 to 1.5% of the liquid.
- Kanten Agar powder dissolves at 194°F (90°C). Therefore add the powder to the liquid and once it boils, keep simmering for about 1-2 min.
- It starts to coagulate at around 86°F(40°C), so once you cool down the mixture, pour it into the moulds you use and add fruits to set.
- Once it sets, it will not melt at room temperature.
A: The answer is yes or no. You can freeze it but completely defrosted Kanten is not quite edible, so I advise not to.
A: You can set the mixture in anything. You can even use an ice cube tray if you like.
Hope you like this Japanese sweet. If you made this and liked it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe.
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- Your choice of fruit I used 8 raspberries, half a kiwi, and 8 mandarin segments from a can of pre-peeled mandarins.
- 2 cups Apple juice *1
- 4 g Kanten powder *2
- 2 tbs sugar *3
- Wash the rapsberries, cut the kiwi into small pieces and drain syrup or juice from the mandarin container and set aside.
- Pour Apple juice into a saucepan and place it over medium heat.
- Add Kanten powder and sugar, and bring it to boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer for 1-2 minutes. *4
- Place fruits into a mold in which you are going to set the mixture. *5
- Pour the agar mixture over the fruit. *5
- Put the lid on and refrigerate to set for 30 minutes. *6
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