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Friday, August 3, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of kanten are there?

There are several types of kanten. The traditional types are kanten bar and kanten strip (long strip). Nowadays mostly kanten comes in powder form. Using standardized kanten powder is more convenient and easy to use compare to using traditional type of kanten.

What is kanten made from?

Kanten is an extract from red seaweeds such as Gracilaria spp., Gelidium spp., Pterocladia spp., Ahnfeltia spp. and Gelidiella spp.

How kanten bar and kanten powder are produced?

The extraction process of kanten in general is the same. Two main differences in processing kanten bar and kanten powder are during removing water from kanten and during drying process. Kanten bar and kanten strip are both made only during winter and left frozen outside before thawing under the sun until dried. It takes 2 weeks up to 3 months for thawing and sun dried kanten bar and strip during winter time. Whereas kanten powder mostly are being produced all year long. Water removing of solid gel formed through chiller machine, is done by using pressing method either done manually or using pressing machine. Drying is also done by using mechanical drying machine. Thus kanten powder is more easily available and hygiene in the process compare to kanten bar or kanten strip (long type).

What is the difference between gelatin and kanten?

Both gelatin and kanten are being used for puddings, however both are from different sources. Gelatin is animal origin ( cows’ or pigs’ bone and skin) and kanten is seaweed origin. Gelatin required low temperature 15-20oC to become gel (required refrigeration) but the melting point is 20-25oC. Thus it will melt when left at room temperature. On the other hand, kanten can become solid gel even left at room temperature because the gelling point is 35-40oC. Kanten will not melt at a hot weather during summer because melting point of kanten is 80-90oC. Thus kanten is more convenient to use for all time desserts and more favorable for picnic or party desserts.

When using kanten bar or kanten strip, the kanten solution did not formed a good gel as well as when using the new instant kanten.

Except instant kanten, most kanten need to be boiled well to have all the kanten completely dissolved. Continue to boil the kanten solution for 1-2 minutes after the solution starts to boil. Instant kanten will dissolve completely just using 90oC hot water when stirred well.

How to get kanten solution to set into solid gel faster?

Boiled half the volume of liquid suggested and add room temperature liquid slowly while stirring the solution. It is advised not to add cold liquid more than half of the total volume of kanten solution as this will create quick temperature change that caused kanten solution not able to form a solid gel.

Why adding acid contained fruits or juices to kanten solution during cooking will caused kanten not able to gel?

Acid contained fruits or fruit juices will caused fiber structure of kanten to break into shorter fiber structure and prevent the solution to become solid gel. However, if such fruits or juices are to be added, this can be done after kanten has completely dissolved and removed from the heat. When adding milk in kanten solution, bring the milk to the room temperature 30-35oC and add this after removed the kanten solution from the heat. This way the kanten solution will form a good solid gel.

Why kanten is good for our body?

Kanten contained high unsoluble and soluble dietary fiber. It is one of the best sources of dietary fiber that helps to prevent constipation and improve regularity thus reduce time transit of waste inside the intestines. It is also known contained calcium, magnesium and iodine. Kanten is also low in calorie and thus good for diet program. When kanten is made into solid gel, kanten will hold 100 times of water in its fiber structure and thus is a good way of consuming dietary fiber without having worry about inadequate of water taken for fiber.

When is kanten first made for human consumption?

Kanten was discovered back in 1658 by Saemon Minoyataro during winter when he discarded some soup outdoor and found dried kanten days later (see Q3). Kanten in Japanese means cold weather and named by Ingen Senji.

How to use kanten powder to get more dietary fiber as suggested?

Besides using kanten powder into many desserts recipes, kanten powder can be also added into various type of cooking such as rice and soup. Just add 2-3 gram of kanten powder into 3-4 cups of washed rice before cooking. Japanese have been using kanten powder in rice cooking for its great taste and good way of getting enough dietary fiber in each meal. Kanten powder can be added to soup during cooking as thickener and as another enrichment of dietary fiber in meal.

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