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~Tips and Things to Know about Granulated Gelatine~

IMG_2552Gelatine.  Dating back to Egyptian times, it's a substance derived from the processing of animal collagen (beef and/or pork).  That's important to know, as, I'm surprised by how many home cooks are under the mistaken impression this colorless, flavorless, pure-protein is vegetarian.  The word "gelatine" comes from Latin word "gelatus", which means "jellied".  Before the invention of our modern day forms (granulate and, sheet or leaf), gelatine was considered a sign of wealth.  It took hours of tedious work to render and clarify the collagen from cattle hides, pig skins and bones so it could be used in fancy sophisticated aspics, molded salads and elegant desserts.  It meant the host or hostess had the means to support a kitchen staff with well-honed culinary skills.

Gelatine granules & sheets -- same product?  Yes & no.

IMG_2874Today I'm focusing on granulated gelatine -- the kind that comes in a box of four packets.  The kind that's been dried and broken up into individual grains that makes it easy to measure.  Sheet gelatine (also known as leaf gelatin), of which I am a big fan, is made from gelatine that has been dried in flat sheets.  While sheets result in a clearer, more transparent final product, they are, in essence, just a different name for the same product.  That said, most recipes for the home kitchen were written by our mothers and grandmothers, who used the granulated gelatine packets. Granulated gelatin is easily found in grocery stores and is common to home cooks.  Sheet gelatin is found in specialty shops or on-line and is more common to professional chefs and bakeshops.

Substituting sheets for granules?  Sure, but, not so fast. 

IMG_2863In my kitchen, "if the recipe ain't broke, don't fix it", and, I'm here to tell you, substituting sheets for granules, due to the fact the strength of sheets varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and country to country (these are made with pork in Germany), the substitution of sheets in time-tested vintage recipes calling for granules is a tricky business which can end in disappointing results.  I do not recommend it for the average home cook.  If a recipe calls for sheets, by all means use them as directed, but don't off-handedly use them as a substitution for granules.

My general rule of thumb for substitution is based solely upon the brand of sheet gelatine I purchase: 1 sheet = gelatin to thicken 1/2 cup liquid; 2 sheets = gelatin to thicken 1 cup liquid; 6 sheets = gelatin to thicken 3 cups liquid; 6 sheets = 1 packet (1 tablespoon) gelatin granules.

A bit of history about powdered, sheets, granules & Jell-O too:

IMG_2858Unflavored, dry, powdered gelatine, "Cox's Gelatin", became available in 1845 from the J&G Company of Edinburgh, Scotland, and exporting to the USA began the same year.  Also in 1845, Peter Cooper, secured a US patent for a gelatine dessert powder called "portable gelatine", but, nothing would be done with this patent for another 50 years.  In 1895, he sold the patent to Pearl Walt, a cough syrup maker.  Together with his wife May, they experimented with adding fruit syrups (strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon) to gelatine powder mixed with sugar.  May renamed the 88% sugar product, Jell-O, but, they were unsuccessful in selling it, and, sold the name and business to Orator Francis Woodward in 1899.  In 1904 the Jell-O-girl, holding a tea kettle in her left hand and a box of Jell-O in her right (just add hot water) was introduced.  

That said, in 1890, Charles Knox, of Jamestown NY, after watching his wife make calves' foot jelly, decided that a prepackaged, easy to use gelatine mix was what American housewifes needed.  In 1894 (a year prior to the portable gelatine powder patent), Charles developed the world's first pre-granulated gelatine, by experimenting until he found a process that dried unflavored gelatine into sheets.  He hired salesmen to travel door-to-door to sell and show housewives how to use it.  The sheets, however, fell by the wayside, when he rocked-the-world and introduced unflavored, granulated gelatine packets, which required no hands-on training for the home cook to use the product with extremely successful, almost foolproof, results.

 Tips & things to know about granulated gelatine packets:

IMG_2853Measuring:  If a recipe calls for a specific number of gelatine packets, empty and use the contents from the specified number of packets (1 packet, 2 packets, etc).  If a recipe calls for a specific measurement (1 teaspoon, 2 teaspoons, etc), open the packet(s) and measure the contents with a measuring spoon. One packet will firmly set 2 cups of liquid that, if desired, can be unmolded at serving time.  One packet will softly set 3 cups of liquid that cannot be unmolded at serving time.

1 packet (1/4 ounce) = 1 scant tablespoon (3 teaspoons)

1 packet will firmly set 2 cups liquid

1 packet will softly set 3 cups liquid

IMG_2876 IMG_2876 IMG_2876 IMG_2876 IMG_2893Blooming (hydrating) and warming (melting):  All gelatine must be softened prior to using.  The softening process is called "blooming".  It's done by sprinkling 1 packet gelation (or specified teaspoon measurement) over 1/4 cup cold water (or specified cold alcohol-free liquid) and setting the mixture aside, without stirring or whisking, "to bloom", 5-10 minutes. Once bloomed, heat/warm the gelatine, as directed.  This can be done on the stovetop, but my favorite method is to place "bloomed" gelatin, which is now very thick, in the microwave. Warm it without allowing to simmer or boil, 10-12 seconds, to 100°-110º, until melted  -- this insures gelatine will be evenly distributed throughout whatever it's added to.

Troubleshooting to insure a successful end result:

My gelatine didn't set.  If a gelatine-based dish doesn't set properly, the gelatine either didn't melt all the way or the gelatine mixture boiled.  If not melted all the way, simply heat it a few seconds longer.  If boiled, any type of gelatine loses its thickening power and won't set correctly.  

My gelatine clumped.  Avoid adding melted gelatin to ice-cold liquid or purée, as it could cause the gelatine to clump or seize -- work with warm, room temperature or moderately cool ingredients that have been removed from the refrigerator 30-45 minutes prior to adding gelatine.  

My end result is rubbery.  It's worth noting that foods set with any type of gelatine get stiffer the longer they sit, so, what was softly- and perfectly-set on Monday will be less wobbly and more rubbery on Thursday.  Gelatine desserts are best served 24-48 hours after preparation.

Pretty in Pink:  Easy, Elegant Strawberry Mousse:

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07fed657970dPanna From Heaven:  A Divine Mango Panna Cotta:

IMG_2687"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


Hi there! Thank you so much for sharing this! Your article is very useful! I have one question: how much does each of your gelatine leaf weight?

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