Gelatine or gelatin is an odourless, tasteless and colourless substance used for thickening. It's used in cookery for gelling foods, being found in many commercial products such as jams and jellies, ice cream, preserved fruits and meats, powdered milk, meringues, taffy, nougat, marshmallows and fondant; home cooks often use it in desserts such as panna cotta. In the non-food world it's utilized for a range of processes such as photography, waterproofing, and dyeing; it can be a culture medium for bacteriological research and a coating for capsules (gel caps) and microscopic slides. It's a base for ointment and pastes such as toothpaste, and as an emulsifying agent in spray. It is used for glue or size, say in applying gold leaf. Pretty useful stuff.

Thing about gelatine is that it's a protein - collagen - derived from animal bones, cartilage, tendons, hoofs, ligaments and other yucky tissues such as pig skin. That's why it didn't become popular until it was commercially available in the late 19th century; before this time people had to boil their own animal bits for ages to make their own. (If they were lucky they could get their hands on isinglass, gelatine made from fish air bladders, or carrageen, a seaweed product, but these were rare.)

These days gelatine is readily available in any grocery store. It is sold in granulated or leaf (sheet) form. Granulated gelatine may be sold in a bulk package or in envelopes, but be careful with those envelopes; the amount they actually contain may vary widely and doesn't often correspond to the amount listed on the package (1/4 ounce or 1 tblsp (15 ml, usually), and I advise you to measure it to be sure. Leaf gelatine is less common; it's sold in packages of paper-thin sheets, four of which equal 1/4 oz package. Both products must be soaked first in cold liquid (water or juice or whatever the recipe directs) - 5 minutes for granulated gelatine, until pliable but still in one piece for leaf (1 to 3 minutes). The granulated gelatine softens and swells, absorbing the liquid and becoming an elastic, transparent mass; the leaf gelatine doesn't become a mass, but does soften, after which it should be drained. Then it must be heated over low temperature, stirring frequently, till it's dissolved. This amount will gel 2 cups (480 ml) of liquid.

Because it's made from animals, gelatine is not suitable for vegetarians. Substitute agar or kudzu starch.


, Gel"a*tine (), n. [F. g'elatine, fr. L. gelare to congeal. See Geal.] Chem. Animal jelly; glutinous material obtained from animal tissues by prolonged boiling. Specifically Physiol. Chem., a nitrogeneous colloid, not existing as such in the animal body, but formed by the hydrating action of boiling water on the collagen of various kinds of connective tissue (as tendons, bones, ligaments, etc.). Its distinguishing character is that of dissolving in hot water, and forming a jelly on cooling. It is an important ingredient of calf's-foot jelly, isinglass, glue, etc. It is used as food, but its nutritious qualities are of a low order.

⇒ Both spellings, gelatin and gelatine, are in good use, but the tendency of writers on physiological chemistry favors the form in -in, as in the United States Dispensatory, the United States Pharmacopeia, Fownes' Watts' Chemistry, Brande & Cox's Dictionary.

Blasting gelatin, an explosive, containing about ninety-five parts of nitroglycerin and five of collodion. -- Gelatin process, a name applied to a number of processes in the arts, involving the use of gelatin. Especially: (a) Photog. A dry-plate process in which gelatin is used as a substitute for collodion as the sensitized material. This is the dry-plate process in general use, and plates of extreme sensitiveness are produced by it. (b) Print. A method of producing photographic copies of drawings, engravings, printed pages, etc., and also of photographic pictures, which can be printed from in a press with ink, or (in some applications of the process) which can be used as the molds of stereotype or electrotype plates. (c) Print. or Copying A method of producing facsimile copies of an original, written or drawn in aniline ink upon paper, thence transferred to a cake of gelatin softened with glycerin, from which impressions are taken upon ordinary paper. -- Vegetable gelatin. See Gliadin.


© Webster 1913.

Gel"a*tine (?), n.

Same as Gelatin.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.