My Vegan Kitchen: What Are Vegan Binders?

Have you ever had crumbly cupcakes or removed a sheet of freshly baked cookies from the oven only to find they fall apart easily? How about a pie or casserole with ingredients that just don’t hold together?

This frustrating problem is usually all about the binder. Let’s talk about some various binders and how they’re used:

  1. Agar Agar: Used in place of gelatin, which is a cruel (and gross!) by-product of the meat industry, agar is a sea vegetable. Also called simply, “agar,” this can be found in the forms of bar, flakes, or powder. Be sure to use the form called for in your recipe, as they are not interchangeable measurements. Here’s a quick guide: 1 tablespoon flakes or 1 teaspoon powder to 1/4 cup hot water. 
    Note: for citrus-based desserts like lemon pie, you’ll need to use slightly more agar agar to accommodate the acidity of the fruit, which makes it more difficult to set.
  2. Arrowroot or Tapioca Starch instead of Cornstarch: Although vegan, cornstarch is a very processed and often genetically modified (GMO). In its place, I choose arrowroot or tapioca starch/flour, which can be found in natural foods stores.
  3. Flour: With pies and casseroles, sometimes all you need is a tablespoon or two of flour. Note this generally works best with wheat flours, like all-purpose, unbleached, whole, pastry, etc. and others containing gluten, like barley flour.

Happy baking!


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