by Emma Chow
Supposedly no one could hate jelly, but do we all like gelatine?
Gelatine can be a controversial ingredient; it a solid form of collagen, a by-product of animal processing – often pork and beef hides and hooves – so is not suitable for vegan, vegetarian, halal, and other religious and cultural diets. There is gelatine made from fish bones, but it can be tricky to find.
Gelatine is used to make jelly, pannacotta, blancmange, chewy lollies, marshmallows, and is found in a lot of other dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, dips and custards.
Want to know if what you’re buying has gelatine in it? It’ll be listed as E441.
One of the trickiest things is figuring out how much gelatine to use. Recipes can be very specific about whether to used powdered or leaf gelatine and there are a couple types of leaf gelatine. Try to stick to what the recipe says in regards to gelatine quantity. I’ve winged it and had some pretty disastrous results. When I was a pastry chef’s apprentice, I once accidentally doubled the amount of gelatine he put in the gigantic lemon curd recipe. It bounced. I got thoroughly yelled at.
- A teaspoon of gelatine powder is about 3.3 grams
- Gold leaf gelatine is equal to 2.2 grams of gelatine powder.
- Titanium leaf gelatine is equal to 5 grams of gelatine powder.
- Gelatine conversions between powder and leaf are really insanely tricky, so it generally helps to stick to the type of gelatine specified in the recipe.
- You need 1 ¼ teaspoons of powdered gelatine to firmly set 1 cup of liquid.
When setting gelatine, you ideally want a minimum of 8 hours. After 24 hours, gelatine stops setting, so by this point you’ve got its final firmness. So best to do gelatine set stuff overnight.
Using leaf gelatine can yield a more neutral flavour, especially when using large quantities of gelatine. I’ve bloomed several tablespoons of gelatine powder and discovered a porky, horsey sort of smell that was just disgusting.
Speaking of blooming, this means to dissolve the gelatine in cold water before adding to another liquid. For gelatine powder, sprinkle it over the surface of cold water or whatever the recipe specifies. One quarter cup of water per teaspoon should be enough to effectively bloom the gelatine. If you just drop it all in one go, it will clump and some of the granules won’t dissolve. Allow the gelatine to bloom for up to 10 minutes before adding to the warm liquid and continue to stir until all is dissolved. Always check your spoon or whisk for undissolved powder.
When using sheet gelatine, fill a small bowl with cold water and submerge the required number of gelatine sheets in this. Allow to soak for at least 5 minutes and then scoop out the now softened sheets with your hands and squeeze all the water out. Make sure you get any stray bits out of the bowl. Add to warm or hot liquid and whisk thoroughly to dissolve.
With both types of gelatine, never boil the liquid once the gelatine has been added. This causes the gelatine to work less effectively if at all.