Curious about gelatin?

Have you ever used it in the kitchen?  Gelatin is a versatile thickener that will not change the color or flavor of whatever liquid it is used in.  It can be used to make homemade whipped cream, gummies, ice cream, smoothies, marshmallows and flavored gelatin desserts.  It can also thicken sauces or serve as an egg substitute in your favorite recipes and much more. 

When using gelatin, you must first hydrate the powder so that it can easily dissolve.  Start by soaking the gelatin in a cold liquid for 5 minutes.  After soaking it, add the gelatin/liquid mixture to the already boiled/hot liquid and stir until dissolved.  If gelatin is added directly to hot liquid before hydrating it, it will stick together and create lumps.  Below is Great Lakes Gelatin® Co. basic recipe for gelatin.

Great Lakes Gelatin Co® Basic Recipe:



·       1 tablespoon Great Lakes Gelatin Co® gelatin

·       ½ cup cold liquid

·       1 ½ cups hot liquid

1.       Add 1 tablespoon of gelatin in ½ cup of cold liquid and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes

2.       Heat 1 ½ cups liquid in a separate container

3.       Pour softened gelatin mixture into the heated liquid and stir to dissolve

4.       Use as intended in a recipe


Tips while working with gelatin:

Need to firm up your gelatin recipe?  Try adding sugar or cream. Sugar pulls water from the gelatin molecules which strengthens their gelling effect and ream makes the liquid more viscous, causing a more thickened product.

Too runny? Acids and salts decrease gelling. While working with these ingredients, you may need to use more gelatin.

Not all ingredients will react in the same way! Some fresh ingredients interfere with the gelling process.  While using gelatin avoid adding figs, ginger, kiwi, mangos, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapple, and prickly pears.  These ingredients have enzymes called proteases.  Proteases digest the protein in gelatin and as a result, the gelatin may not thicken and gel properly.  Really want to use these fresh ingredients?  Cut the ingredients into small pieces and boil them for 5 minutes before using in the gelatin – this helps neutralize the enzymes and reduces interference with the thickening and gelling process.  You can use canned fruit as well because it has already been heated before being canned. 

How do you suspend solids in gelatin? Allow the gel to cool until it has become semi-firm, then stir in solids. 

Not too hot! While heating gelatin, avoid using high heat and minimize heating times.  High heat and heating for long periods of time interfere with the gelling process, weakening the gel strength.  So, the best practice is to add the hydrated gelatin to already boiled or simmered liquid.  Also, when reheating foods thickened with gelatin, heat slowly to avoid weakening the gel.   

Not too cold! Avoid freezing liquids that have been thickened using gelatin.  It is important to avoid freezing liquids thickened with gelatin because when it is thawed, liquid seeps out from the gel compromising the gelling ability. 

How do you remove a chilled gel from a decorative mold?  Dip the mold in warm water for 5-10 seconds, the warm water will liquify the edges of the gel.  Loosen the edges with a small knife or shake it and invert. 

Where do I store gelatin?  Gelatin should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container in a dry well-ventilated area.

If you have never worked with gelatin, I encourage you to give it a try.  Because it is so versatile, it is wonderful to use when trying to thicken a sauce or soup or make a delicious dessert.  Not only is gelatin a great product to use in the kitchen, but it also provides added health benefits to your recipes.  Need some gelatin recipe ideas?  Check out the recipes on Great Lakes Gelatin Company’s website.  Here’s to cooking and your wellness.

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