Kanten: Fruit or Veg?

July 17, 2020 • Nancy Wolfson-Moche
above, photo by Ma’yan Moche

This presents as a refreshing gelatin dessert. It is a refreshing breakfast dish too, made with a sea vegetable called kanten or agar agar.  Made using an ancient process of snow-drying a variety of red sea vegetables, kanten is a concentrated source of nutrients and trace minerals, reducing the risk of certain diseases and aiding in toxin elimination. Its natural ability to gel or bind combined with its mild flavor and the fact that it has zero calories makes it an ideal fruit companion. So for anyone hesitant to jump on the vegetables for breakfast bandwagon, try this. A vegetable masquerading as a fruit?

Ingredients to serve 6

1 1/2 cups pure (no citrus added) apricot, apple or mango juice

1 1/2 cups spring water

3 Tablespoons kanten (agar agar) flakes – (1 tablespoon seaweed flakes per cup of liquid)

a pinch of medium or coarse sea salt

1½ – 2 cups berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc)

fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the 1 ½ cups of juice in a medium pot.  Add 1 1/2 cups spring or filtered water. Add the kanten flakes and let sit in the pot (no flame on) for about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt.

  2. Heat on a medium flame until it begins to boil and all the kanten flakes dissolve. This should take about 10-20 minutes.  Mix gently with a wooden spoon.

  3. Place the berries in individual dessert cups (or one big bowl). Pour the hot liquid kanten over the top. Leave to cool and firm and then refrigerate before serving.

  4. You can top with a fresh mint leaf or berry.

Icing on the Cake: Testimonials

I loved Ms. Nancy’s cooking class so much.! I have been in this cooking class for two years and I would love to sign up for another one. I tried a lot of new foods like winter squash, cardamom, Brussels sprouts and kale. My favorite salad was the kiwi, carrot, radish salad.
Not only did we cook and eat, we also did labs about food. We used rulers to measure the size of plants. We also explored stone fruits and their ripe season. Now in my house we have window boxes and I am growing cherry tomatoes and basil.
I learned that we can use a lot of different tools to cook, not just our hands and senses. We used safety knives, potato peelers and a carrot sharpener (I wonder if you could sharpen a pencil with it?) !!!
Because of this class I can help papi make dinner and I will try any new food at least once to see if I like it. Thank you, Ms. Nancy for making cooking fun and interesting and helping me be excited about food.

- Love, K (a 7-year-old boy).