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    Strawberry agar agar jelly pearls

    strawberries and cream cupcake topped with strawberry agar agar jelly pearls

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    Goodness, I had a fabulous finish to 2010 when I was invited in December to give an interview on the gorgeous blog Haniela's, then on Christmas Eve I was featured on my all time favourite cupcake blog Cupcakes Take The Cake which caused me to burn the turkey I'm sure as I was so distracted and happy!! 

    On to the first cupcake of 2011, which ties into answering the first email of year (ok, technically this a December 2010 mail but you know I'm always running behind) which comes from Issy in Auckland NZ and read.....

    hi love your blog and I wanted to know if you can make fruit pearls without the chemicals. I'm a vegetarian so gelatine isn't an option. i wanted fruit pearls to go on cupcakes. 

    Thanks for the mail Issy. The chemicals Issy is referring to are from an earlier post I did on making fruit caviar/pearls with the molecular gastronomy method favoured by many chefs. 

    Ok, Issy you can make fruit pearls or caviar with just agar agar, however you have to use them immediately if you are using them for cupcake toppers as they shrink dramatically when exposed to air. They do taste exactly of the juice you use & are easy to handle. Unlike the molecular gastronomy version that are a gel "case" with fluid inside the agar agar version are a solid soft gel. 

    Making Strawberry Agar Agar Pearls

    you will need accurate scales and a plastic syringe


    100 ml (3.4 fluid oz) of strawberry juice or juice of choice

    1 gram (0.035 oz) of agar agar powder

    1 cup of flavourless vegetable oil

    Apple juice for storing the pearls in. 


    In a small saucepan whisk together the juice and the agar agar powder. Over medium heat, whisking constantly bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the agar agar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let the mixture stand for 4 to 5 minutes.

    Fill your syringe with the juice mixture and add to the oil... drop by drop.

    Strain the pearls from the oil and transfer to apple juice until ready to use. The apple juice washes away the oil residue and the leftover cup of oil can be reused for baking.


    Now you will have perfect small fruit pearls ready to top your cupcakes.

    And here comes the "but"... these guys shrink dramatically when exposed to air.

    On the left is one of the fruit pearls after being exposed to air for 3 hours, on the right is a nonpareil (a hundred and thousand sprinkle). 

    As you can see the shrinkage is extreme, but if you're serving them straight away they are pretty, taste great and easy to make. 

    Hope that helped Issy, let me know if you decide to  make them. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Related posts...

    Plum fruit caviar/pearls the molecular gastronomy method

    A hybrid gel that moulds easily and is extremely stable, made from gelatine/agar agar is used to create gel shapes for topping peanut butter frosting.

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    Reader Comments (10)

    OMG, that's brilliant! I never thought a syringe would produce 'pearls' from agar jelly.

    Could you also do this with Konyaku (Japanese) Jelly powder for pearls with more bounce in the bite? I am also wondering if I could do that melted chocolate & cold vodka trick and make chocolate pearls.

    Again, another eye-opening post. I learn something every time I drop by. You're great!

    Thanks, Jude

    January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJude

    These are so beautiful! I bet they taste great too!

    Thank you Jude. I just tried the chocolate in the syringe... lol, now a giant glass of vodka with messy bits of chocolate in it... it's hot today and the chocolate soooo thin it was running out of the syringe. I'll try thickening the chocolate by partially seizing next week... I'd love to be able to get this to work!!

    I'm not sure if we still have Konyake jelly powder for sale here... the pre made Konyaku was banned 5-6 years ago. When Daniel was little I always bought him the small jewelled jellies with a fruit piece in the centre... I didn't realise they were a choking risk until the ban came about. From memory it takes quite a while to set??

    Thank you Liz... they were summery and yummy!!

    January 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    I'm so sorry for being the catalyst for that choc/ vodka mess LOL. It's just that I get all excited when you show us all these wonderful things we can do with dessert and start jumping to conclusions.
    Thanks for being brave enough to do the test drive. You're committed to your craft, Jeniffer, I'll give you that.

    I was really surprised to hear that there is an official ban on konyaku jelly but I did find them all the rage at one time and then somehow they suddenly disappeared. I just thought it was a fad food thing but now that you mention it, they could have been pretty lethal.

    Have you tried that weird bubble tea drink they have all over Asia? There are all these chewy balls at the bottom of a flavoured milk drink but I have no idea what they use to make those 'bubbles'. I had it first in Sydney actually.

    I have never seen cupcakes like yours. You're a champ.

    January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJude

    Hi Jude, pearl/seed tapioca are the balls in the bottom... the bubbles are formed by "shaking". I've made it at home and the bubbles don't last as long... think perhaps it's a dairy free whitener of some kind and that holds the bubbles longer? Hope your having a great weekend :)

    January 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    This is really great, but every time I try to make them, they collapse at the bottom of the oil... What can I do? I love this recipe!

    May 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeedsHelp

    it looks great... but can you not get the same result by using sodium alginate and calcium choride?

    August 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlloyd

    Hi Ella, I apologise for the lateness of my reply due to my recent absence from the blog.... "collapse" as in they aren't holding shape and they're squashing flat??? If so your measurement/s are slightly out. Are your scales calibrated.... and perhaps try increasing the agar agar powder a little. Again sorry for taking so long to reply.

    Hi Lloyd, yes you can use sodium alginate and calcium chloride... I do so on a previous post lots of fun the molecular gastronomy stuff isn't it :)

    August 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterThe Lone Baker

    I can't get this to work :( I'm trying it with homemade carrot juice and using the scales for accuracy. They "sphere" upon hitting oil but meld to a glob at the bottom of oil cup. Hallp!! What juice do you recommend, is that the problem? Thank you

    June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChrestina

    Hi I'm having the same problem as Christina that's probably because I'm substituting gelatin how much would you recommend I use

    November 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

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