Gelatin dessert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Gelatin dessert
A multi-coloured layered gelatin (jelly) dessert
Type Dessert
Serving temperature Chilled
Main ingredients Gelatin
Cookbook: Gelatin dessert  Media: Gelatin dessert

Gelatin desserts are desserts made with sweetened and flavored gelatin. This kind of dessert is first recorded by Hannah Glasse in her 18th century book The Art of Cookery.

They can be made by combining plain gelatin with other ingredients or by using a premixed blend of gelatin with additives. Fully prepared gelatin desserts are sold in a variety of forms, ranging from large decorative shapes to individual serving cups.


Wood-engraving of "Orange Jellies" garnished with myrtle leaves, in Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families, 1845

Before gelatin became widely available as a commercial product, the most typical gelatin dessert was "calf's foot jelly", as the name indicates, this was made by extracting and purifying gelatin from the foot of a calf. This gelatin was used for savory dishes in aspic, or was mixed with fruit juice and sugar for a dessert.[1]

In the eighteenth century, gelatin from calf's feet, isinglass and hartshorn was colored blue with violet juice, yellow with saffron, red with cochineal and green with spinach and allowed to set in layers in small, narrow glasses. It was flavored with sugar, lemon juice and mixed spices, this preparation was called jelly; Hannah Glasse was the first to record the use of this jelly in trifle in her book The Art of Cookery, first published in 1747.[2]


A gelatin dessert containing pieces of fruit

To make a gelatin dessert, gelatin is dissolved in hot liquid with the desired flavors and other additives, these latter ingredients usually include sugar, fruit juice, or sugar substitutes; they may be added and varied during preparation, or pre-mixed with the gelatin in a commercial product which merely requires the addition of hot water.

In addition to sweeteners, the prepared commercial blends generally contain flavoring agents and other additives, such as adipic acid, fumaric acid, sodium citrate, and artificial flavorings and food colors. Because the collagen is processed extensively, the final product is not categorized as a meat or animal product by the US federal government.

Prepared commercial blends may be sold as a powder or as a concentrated gelatinous block, divided into small squares. Either type is mixed with sufficient hot water to completely dissolve it, and then mixed with enough cold water to make the volume of liquid specified on the packet.

The solubility of powdered gelatin can be enhanced by sprinkling it into the liquid several minutes before heating, "blooming" the individual granules,[3] the fully dissolved mixture is then refrigerated, slowly forming a colloidal gel as it cools.

Gelatin desserts may be enhanced in many ways, such as using decorative molds, creating multicolored layers by adding a new layer of slightly cooled liquid over the previously-solidified one, or suspending non-soluble edible elements such as marshmallows or fruit. Some types of fresh fruit and their unprocessed juices are incompatible with gelatin desserts; see the Chemistry section below.

When fully chilled, the most common ratios of gelatin to liquid (as instructed on commercial packaging) usually result in a custard-like texture which can retain detailed shapes when cold but melts back to a viscous liquid when warm. A recipe calling for the addition of additional gelatin to regular jelly gives a rubbery product that can be cut into shapes with cookie cutters and eaten with fingers (called "Knox Blox" by the Knox company, makers of unflavored gelatin). Higher gelatin ratios can be used to increase the stability of the gel, culminating in gummy candies which remain rubbery solids at room temperature (see Bloom (test)).

The Bloom Strength of a gelatin mixture is the measure of how strong it is, it is defined by the force in grams required to press a 12.5 mm diameter plunger 4 mm into 112 g of a standard 6.67% w/v gelatin gel at 10 °C. The Bloom Strength of a gel is useful to know when determining the possibility of substituting a gelatin of one Bloom Strength for a gelatin of another. One can use the following equation:

C x B½ = k

or C1(B1)½÷(B2)½ = C2

Where C = concentration, B = Bloom strength and k = constant, for example, when making gummies, it's important to know that a 250 Bloom gelatin has a much shorter (more thick) texture than a 180 Bloom gelatin.[4]

Gelatin shots[edit]

A tray of gelatin shots prior to refrigeration

A gelatin shot (usually called a Jell-O shot in North America and vodka jelly or jelly shot in the UK and Australia) is a shooter in which liquor, usually vodka, rum, tequila, or neutral grain spirit, replaces some of the water or fruit juice that is used to congeal the gel.

The American satirist and mathematician Tom Lehrer claims to have invented the gelatin shot in the 1950s while working for the National Security Agency, where he developed vodka gelatin as a way to circumvent a restriction of alcoholic beverages on base.[5] An early published recipe for an alcoholic gelatin drink dates from 1862, found in How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion by Jerry Thomas: his recipe for "Punch Jelly" calls for the addition of isinglass or other gelatin to a punch made from cognac, rum, and lemon juice.[6][7]

Gelatin substitutes[edit]

Other culinary gelling agents can be used instead of animal-derived gelatin, these plant-derived substances are more similar to pectin and other gelling plant carbohydrates than to gelatin proteins; their physical properties are slightly different, creating different constraints for the preparation and storage conditions. These other gelling agents may also be preferred for certain traditional cuisines or dietary restrictions.

Agar, a product made from red algae,[8] is the traditional gelling agent in many Asian desserts. Agar is a popular gelatin substitute in quick jelly powder mix and prepared dessert gels that can be stored at room temperature. Compared to gelatin, agar preparations require a higher dissolving temperature, but the resulting gels congeal more quickly and remain solid at higher temperatures, 104 °F (40 °C),[9] as opposed to 59 °F (15 °C)[10] for gelatin. Vegans and vegetarians can use agar to replace animal-derived gelatin.

Carrageenan is also derived from seaweed, and lacks agar's occasionally unpleasant smell during cooking. It sets more firmly than agar and is often used in kosher and halal cooking.

Konjac is a gelling agent used in many Asian foods, including the popular konnyaku fruit jelly candies.


Gelatin consists of partially hydrolyzed collagen, a protein which is highly abundant in animal tissues such as bone and skin. Collagen is a protein made up of three strands of polypeptide chains that form in a helical structure. To make a gelatin dessert, such as Jello, the collagen is mixed with water and heated, disrupting the bonds that hold the three strands of polypeptides together, as the gelatin cools, these bonds try to reform in the same structure as before, but now with small bubbles of liquid in between. This gives gelatin its semisolid, gel-like texture.[11]

Because gelatin is a protein that contains both acid and base amino groups, it acts as an amphoteric molecule, displaying both acidic and basic properties, this allows it to react with different compounds, such as sugars and other food additives. These interactions give gelatin a versatile nature in the roles that it plays in different foods, it can stabilize foams in foods such as marshmallows, it can help maintain small ice crystals in ice cream, and it can even serve as an emulsifier for foods like toffee and margarine.[12]

Although many gelatin desserts incorporate fruit, some fresh fruits contain proteolytic enzymes; these enzymes cut the gelatin molecule into peptides (protein fragments) too small to form a firm gel. The use of such fresh fruits in a gelatin recipe results in a dessert that never "sets".

Specifically, pineapple contains the protease (protein cutting enzyme) bromelain, kiwi fruit contains actinidin, figs contain ficain, and papaya contains papain. Cooking or canning denatures and deactivates the proteases, so canned pineapple, for example, works fine in a gelatin dessert.

Legal definitions and regulations[edit]


According to the Food and Drug Regulations of Canada,[13] jelly is defined as a gelatinous food which has gone through a process of being boiled using the combination of water and a sweetening ingredient, this process includes fruit juice or fruit concentrate from the fruit that it is being named after, but excludes any seeds or pulp from that fruit. Jelly contains a minimum of 62% of water soluble solids, and sometimes also incorporates the use of pectin (this includes a pectinous preparation or an acid ingredient) to make up for the lack of natural pectin or acidity, a pH adjusting agent, as well as an antifoaming agent.

Jelly with added pectin must have a minimum of 32% of the juice that it is made from, as well as 62% of water soluble solids and pectin or pectinous preparation. Again, the use of added pectin in jelly is due to the occasional shortages of natural pectin or acidity. Jelly with added pectin also may contain a pH adjusting agent and an antifoaming agent, as well as the juice of another fruit, a gelling agent, some food colour, and a Class II preservative.

The standards mentioned above do not apply to products such as cranberry sauce, jellied cranberry, cranberry jelly, mint jelly, and jellied mint.


Gelatin dessert in China is defined as edible jelly-like food prepared from a mixture of water, sugar and gelling agent,[14] the preparation processes include concocting, gelling, sterilizing and packaging. In China, around 250 legal additives are allowed in gelatin desserts as gelling agents, colors, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and antioxidants.[15]

Gelatin desserts are classified into 5 categories according to the different flavoring substances they contain. Five types of flavoring substance include artificial fruit flavored type (less than 15% of natural fruit juice), natural fruit flavored type (above 15% of natural fruit juice), natural flavored with fruit pulp type and dairy type products, which includes dairy ingredients, the last type (“others”) summarizes gelatin desserts not mentioned above. It is typically sold in single-serving plastic cups or plastic food bags.


According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration,[16] jelly is a semi-solid food obtaining gelatinous consistency through the process of concentrating, by the application of heat, it is a mixture of fruit juice or diluted or concentrated fruit juice and saccharine ingredients, in which the fruit juice is more than 45 parts (including 45 parts) by weight and the saccharine ingredients on more than 55 parts by weight.

For the regulations of labeling, if the jelly's made with single fruit juice ingredient, the name should be “Jelly”. Otherwise, if it is made by multiple fruits, the name of “Jelly” should be followed by the words “Mixed fruit” or by the name of fruits, the label should declare each of the ingredients used in the jelly, except that the ingredients are declared without specifying the particular form of the fruit or fruits are used.

In terms of the import policy of jellies and jams published by the U.S. FDA,[17] the import samples of jellies should be tested. Once an import sample of jellies indicates a significant deficiency of fruits based upon values previously established by the Food and Drug Administration, the products should not be available for importing from other countries. However, if the importer can provide evidence to demonstrate that the fruits used as ingredients was used previously, and that the indices used for this finished fruit product just differ from the indices for the United States, then this product can be released to be imported.


Although eating tainted beef can lead to New Variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (the human variant of mad-cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy), there is no known case of BSE having been transmitted through collagen products such as gelatin.[18]

Regional names[edit]

In many of the Commonwealth nations including Canada and in Ireland, gelatin desserts are often called jelly. In the United States, gelatin desserts are sometimes called jello or gelatin, whereas jelly is a fruit preserve.


Packets of Rowntree's jelly cubes, now manufactured by Hartley's

Popular brands of premixed gelatin include Aeroplane Jelly in Australia, Hartley's (formerly Rowntree's) in the United Kingdom, and Jell-O from Kraft Foods and Royal from Jel Sert in North America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Picayune (2013). The Picayune's Creole Cook Book. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-4494-4043-5. 
  2. ^ Glasse, Hannah. To make hartshorn jelly. The Art of Cookery (1774 ed.). p. 285. 
  3. ^ "Unflavored Gelatin - Using Gelatin In Your Cooking". 
  4. ^ Francis, Frederick J (2000). Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 1183–1188. 
  5. ^ "That Was the Wit That Was". SF Weekly. 
  6. ^ Thomas, Jerry. "How to Mix Drinks, Or, The Bon-vivant's Companion". 
  7. ^ The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan. Clarkson Potter, 2003. Pages 15-16, 150.
  8. ^ "All About Agar".
  9. ^ "Agar Plates Bacterial Culture". Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "Gelation and Stiffening Power of Gelatin". Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  11. ^ "What is Jell-O? How does it turn from a liquid to a solid when it cools?". Scientific American. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Francis, Frederick J (2000). Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 1183–1188. 
  13. ^ Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Food and Drug Regulations". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "GB 2760-2014 食品安全国家标准 食品添加剂使用标准". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  16. ^ Affairs, Office of Regulatory. "Compliance Policy Guides - CPG Sec. 550.475 Jellies, Nonstandardized". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  17. ^ Affairs, Office of Regulatory. "Compliance Policy Guides - CPG Sec. 560.500 Jams, Jellies and Related Products - Imports". Retrieved 2017-07-20. 
  18. ^ Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) (1992–2000). "BSE inquiry: A consideration of the possible hazard of gelatin to man". Archived from the original on 28 February 2006. 

External links[edit]