Often recipes such as marshmallows, mousse, jams, jelly and other recipes will call for an ingredient “Gelatine” in order to set, and gel together substances.

What is Gelatine?

Gelatine is a tasteless clear substance is made from collagen inside animal’s skin, bones, hooves and connective tissue, this includes pigs. Hence why a lot of vegetarians and members of certain religions object to foods containing animal gelatine. Gelatine is used as a gelling agent in food; pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing, with E number E441. Gelatine is available in sheets, or powder. Some gelatine’s are available to use instantly, whilst others need to be soaked in water before use. When gelatine is dissolved in hot water, the liquid will gel as it cools. When reheated, the gel melts.

Where is Gelatine Found?

• You can find gelatine in chewy gummy candies, marshmallows, trifles, mousse, jams, jelly, ice-creams and even low fat yoghurts. Gelatine is also used as a stabilizer or thickener, or texturizer in foods such as jams, cream cheese, margarine and yoghurts. Gelatine is used in low-fat products to replace the fat feel and create volume without calories.

• Gelatine is sometimes used for the clarification of juices, such as apple juice and of vinegar. Isinglass made from swim bladder of fish is currently still being used as a fining agent for wine and beer, and is one of the oldest sources of gelatine. Gelatine was used for hardening paper in Colonial times.

• Some dietary or religious customs forbid the use of gelatine from certain animal sources, and medical issues may limit or prevent its consumption by certain people.

• Pharmaceutical companies use gelatine to for capsule shells, in order to make patients swallow easily. Hypromellose is a vegan friendly alternative to gelatine, but is expensive to produce.

• Gelatine is used as a binder in match heads and sandpaper.

• Gelatine is used in implantable medical devices, for example in some bone void fillers. Doctors should discuss this with their patients in cases where religious beliefs might be important.

• Gelatine is also used in makeup applications. The gelatine is often tinted in different colours to match the models natural skin tone. A variant of gelatine ‘hydrolyzed collagen’ is used as well in cosmetics.

Substitute for Gelatine?

Agar is derived from seaweed and agar is used as a substitute for gelatine. Soak the agar in liquid for 15 minutes, bring to a gentle boil, then let it simmer whilst stirring until its dissolved. The liquid will gel as it cools. Agar is full of protein but also contains rich number of minerals. Agar comes in flakes, powder, or bars.

Substitute one tablespoon powdered gelatine for every tablespoon of powdered agar.

1 tbsp gelatine (powdered) = 1 tbsp agar (powdered)

Carrageen (Irish moss) is extracted from purple seaweed, widely used in British Isles to make puddings and molded gelatine desserts, or to thicken soups, and often used to make ice-cream, and jelly. Wash the dried seaweed then soak it in water until it swells. Next add the carrageen to the liquid you wish to set, boil for 10 minutes and strain our and remove the carrageen. Carrageen is found in health food stores.

Vege-Gel is a proprietary product made by Supercook, and available in most large supermarkets and is a good substitute for animal gelatine.

Kosher gelatines are available, and some of these are also vegetarian.

Gelatine Measurements

4 sheets leaf gelatine = 1 envelope of plain granulated gelatine = 1/4 oz = 1 tablespoon = 7grams, (enough to gel two cups liquid).