Gelatin is known to be a most versatile ingredient but do you know that Gelatin is a kind of super food as well – I mean the nutritional benefits Gelatin comes with. I will be sharing interesting Gelatin tips tricks and substitutes along with the quantities and ratios that you can use in various recipes.
Let’s get the confidence to work with Gelatin in different recipes and in different forms.
The Basics of Gelatin and its true potential.
Gelatin is a flavourless, odourless, translucent thickening substance that forms a gel when combined with liquid and heated. Gelatin is basically cooked collagen and it comes from the bones and connective tissues of animals. Gelatin melts at around body temperature – This is called thermos-reversible. Means the jelly liquefies when heated above its melting point, and regains the jelly like consistency when cooled again.
Gelatin strengthens skin, hair and nail growth and also improves the shine of your nails and hair. Gelatin can also help tighten loose skin (like the kind you get after having babies). The Collagen present in Gelatin gives your skin its elasticity and helps to keep your skin wrinkle free. Go for it ladies.
Gelatin is one of the best foods for gut health. It helps to fill holes and damaged areas of the stomach lining and reduces inflammation. Gelatin also increases the amount of gastric acid in the gut, which is needed to breakdown and digest protein.
It’s good for joints and can help joint recovery. Gelatin is a source of protein (though not a spectacular one) but its specific amino acids can help build muscles.
Gelatin is available in two forms – Sheet Gelatin (Leaf Gelatin), and granular Gelatin (powder Gelatin). You can successfully substitute sheet Gelatin for powdered Gelatin in any recipe.
The process of softening the Gelatin in liquid prior to heating is called blooming. It is a very important step – Gelatin can’t be added directly into any recipe. It needs to be mixed with a little bit of water before being added in order to hydrate (or “bloom”) the grains of Gelatin. It will take on an applesauce-like consistency and eventually set into a solid if not used right away. In such a situation, it’s best to soften it back into a liquid before adding it to the rest of the recipe. This is easily and quickly done by setting the bowl with the Gelatin in a small saucepan filled with an inch of water over medium-high heat.
Do not boil the mixture or Gelatin will not set.
Do not add chilled liquids or mixtures to Gelatin after it is dissolved or it will cause uneven setting.
One tablespoon of Gelatin will set two cups of liquid
One package of powdered Gelatin is roughly equal to one tablespoon.
Three sheets of Gelatin equals one tablespoon of powdered Gelatin.
Desserts made with Gelatin should chill for at least eight hours, but twenty-four hours is best. After twenty-four hours, Gelatin will not set any further
Soak sheets of Gelatin in a bowl of cold/iced water for 5 to 10 minutes. (Use about 1 cup/250ml of cold water per sheet.)
Once soft, lift sheets from the cold water.
Wring gently to remove excess water.
Add sheets to room temperature liquid called for in the recipe. Heat the mixture, stirring until the Gelatin is dissolved.
Gelatin is an animal product, but is used in many recipes. The closest substitute of Gelatin for vegetarians is agar-agar. Agar-agar is also known by its Japanese name “Kanten”. In Indian cuisine agar-agar is also known as “China grass”. It is sometimes labelled as plant Gelatin or vegetarian Gelatin
The main difference between agar-agar and Gelatin is the source from which they are derived. Agar-agar is extracted from seaweed. And, as you know, Gelatin is from bones and connective tissues of animal.
Agar-agar has stronger setting properties and does not require major refrigeration to set. A jelly made with agar-agar will set at room temperature after about an hour.
Tips – Important point here is that agar jellies will collapse if stirred, shaken or disturbed before they have set completely. (so don’t try to fidget with agar “madam”). The container to set the jelly must be oil free and don’t line the container with any cling wrap.
Good news here is agar-agar can also be melted and re-set multiple times without a loss in strength.
Like Gelatin, the gelling ability of agar-agar is affected by the acidity or alkalinity of the ingredients it is mixed with. Citrus fruits will require higher amounts of agar-agar.
I find the texture of agar-agar gets different in some desserts if not used properly, it gets little crumblier sometimes. You got to be very careful when using agar-agar in the recipes as a replacement for Gelatin. For eg. Using too much of agar-agar can make a pannacotta hard and not smooth and creamy. So it is better to use agar by weighing as mentioned in recipes. In case of not having kitchen scale – Use the powder from small ready available envelop of 1 gram, 2 grams and 5 grams of agar.
Like Gelatin, you must soak agar in cold water but then, unlike Gelatin, you must boil the agar solution for 5 minutes to activate and completely dissolve the carbohydrates.
Substitute powdered agar-agar powder for Gelatin using equal amounts for most of recipes
Use the ratio of 100ml of liquid to 0.9g of powdered agar-agar
Use 1.3g of agar-agar to 100ml of acidic/ citric liquid.
I have tried to cover most of the points in this post, hope it will be helpful to you. I would love hear from you about your tips and tricks on gelatin.