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Gelatin or Gelatine is a protein extracted from collagen present in animal connective tissue and bones, derived from breaking down cattle bones. Gelatin is mainly used as a gelling agent for desserts and prepared meats. Gelatin usually comes as powder or thin, fragile sheets. Gelatin should be clear and not too yellow, with almost no gluey taste.

Gelatin is used to make fruit jellies, jelly-like sweets (e.g. Haribo and Jelly Babies), glazes to protect meat products or an ersatz aspic.

Gelatin varies in its setting ability, plus the effect you are after - stiff jellies or more palatable, lighter ones. It can be interchanged with agar. Their differing properties are: agar melts at 90oC (194oF) and sets at 45oC (113oF). Gelatin melts at 27oC (81oF) and sets at 20oC (68oF).

How To Use Gelatin

To use, follow instructions of the packet, or:

  • For powdered gelatin, sprinkle gelatin over a small bowl of 2 - 3 tablespoons of water or the liquid in your recipe. Stir. When the gelatin has soaked up the liquid, place the bowl in a pan of just boiling water. Heat until dissolved and clear.
  • Soak leaf gelatin in cold water for about four mins to soften. Squeeze excess water from the sheets before adding to a hot liquid, which will melt the leaf sufficiently, then stir in well. Or squeeze out excess water, and in a pan over a very gentle heat, allow the gelatin to melt slowly, stirring a couple if times. Once melted, remove from the heat and add cold ingredients to the gelatin.

Alternatives: agar, carrageenan or other thickeners.

Other Languages

Language gelatin
French Gélatine
German Galbert
Italian Gelatina
Spanish Gelatina

Further Reading

  • Dowell, P., Bailey, A. (1980) The Book of Ingredients, Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0718119150.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.