Both spellings are correct but, what is it?
Most people know gelatine from the popular colorful jiggly dessert known as Jello. However, did you know that Gelatine is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different cooking applications and actually also has some health benefits?
I recently used gelatine for a cooking challenge that was given to me. I was challenged to make an Aspic. (for those of you who do not know what an Aspic is, it is basically a savory jelly cake made in a mold and layered with a choice meat or vegetables). A soup in Jello format, as I explained to my kids. It was my first time using gelatine powder and so first wanted to do a few tests. But the question that kept popping up in my head was, what is this stuff anyway?
So for the ones who, like me, kind of know but don't really know, here is a brief rundown of what we are working with here.
Gelatine is a protein derived from collagen, which is a fibrous protein found in the bones, skin, and connective tissues of animals such as cows, pigs, and fish. To make gelatine, collagen is extracted from the bones, skin, or connective tissues and treated with heat, acid, or a combination of both to break down the collagen into smaller, soluble molecules.
Once the collagen has been broken down, it is then filtered and purified to remove any impurities. The resulting clear liquid is then cooled, causing it to solidify into a gel. The gel is then dried and ground into a fine powder, which is what we know as gelatine powder.
When added to liquids, such as juices, broths, or custards, the gelatine forms a network of interconnected proteins that trap the water molecules and create a semi-solid structure. This gelling process is activated by heat, which causes the gelatine molecules to dissolve and then re-solidify as the mixture cools. Since it is colorless and flavorless it can be used not only for sweet desserts but savory dishes as well.
In cooking, gelatine is most often used to make desserts like jellies, puddings, and mousse, however as mentioned above, it can also be used for savory dishes like aspic, terrine, and cheesecake. Gelatine can also be used to thicken sauces and add a smooth texture to foods.
Gelatine is available in powder or sheet form and is typically sold in grocery stores. When choosing gelatine, it is suggested to look for high-quality, unflavored gelatine that is free from additives and preservatives.
When using gelatine in cooking, it is important to follow the recommended ratios of gelatine to liquid, as using too much or too little can result in a dessert or dish that is too firm or too soft. Gelatine is also a delicate ingredient and can be damaged by high heat or acidic ingredients, so it is important to take care when cooking with it. To use gelatine in cooking, it is typically bloomed in cold water for 5-10 minutes before being melted in hot liquid. The melted gelatine is then mixed into the desired food and allowed to cool and set.
Gelatine is an often overlooked ingredient that can actually also offer a number of healthy benefits to your diet. It is a rich source of amino acids and other nutrients that can improve your overall health and wellness. One of the key benefits of gelatine is its ability to support healthy bones and joints. Since gelatine is made from collagen, it is high in amino acids proline and glycine, which are important building blocks for collagen, the protein that gives strength to bones, skin, and other connective tissues. This makes gelatine a great addition to your diet if you are looking to improve your bone health or support your joint function. Gelatine is also an excellent source of protein, which is important for maintaining healthy muscles and repairing damaged tissues. With its high levels of amino acids and other nutrients, gelatine can help you feel full and satisfied after a meal, making it a great option for those who are trying to manage their weight. Gelatine can also improve gut health. Gelatine forms a gel-like substance in the gut, which can help improve the gut lining and reduce inflammation. This can be especially helpful for those with digestive issues such as leaky gut syndrome or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In addition, gelatine can support healthy skin and hair. Its high levels of proline and glycine can help improve skin elasticity and hydration, while also supporting healthy hair growth and skin repair. Overall, gelatine is a versatile and nutrient-rich ingredient that can offer numerous health benefits. Adding gelatine to your diet is a simple and effective way to improve your overall wellness. Whether you choose to consume gelatine in supplement form or through foods like bone broth or jelly, you can enjoy its many benefits and support your health and well-being.
In conclusion, gelatine is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes, from sweet to savory. Whether you're looking to make a dessert, a sauce, or a filling, gelatine is an excellent choice that can add texture and stability to your creations as well as add a variety of health benefits to your diet.
Hope this helped shed some light onto the mysterious jiggly substance we all have eaten but maybe never questioned.