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Summertime is the season for cooling jellies, and one of the most popular kinds in Japan is kanten. Overseas, this is known as agar-agar, but here kanten and agar are confusingly considered to be two distinctly different substances.

Three types of gelling agents are commonly used in the Japanese kitchen: gelatin, agar and kanten. Both agar and kanten are derived from seaweed, and neither, unlike gelatin, will dissolve at room temperature. And since they are both vegetable-based, they are ideal for vegans and vegetarians — unlike gelatin, which is derived from animal-based collagen.

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