Gelatin's melting point (body temp) mirrors the pleasantly rich sensation of fat on the tongue. It turns liquids into gels; helps maintain the airy nature of whipped creams, mousses, and foams; and brings silky, thick texture to sauces. Here’s how to unleash its delightful properties.
Gelatin, a type of protein, is made from animal collagen (typically from pig or cow skin, cartilage, and bones). It comes in two forms.
What? It’s sold as a powder or in sheets; both are tasteless, odorless, and colorless. One envelope of powdered gelatin equals 4 sheets of 225-bloom-strength sheet gelatin. Find powdered gelatin at supermarkets and gelatin sheets online.
To add gelatin to a recipe, first hydrate and soften it (called blooming) in cold liquid. Water, broth, wine, and most fruit juices can be used.
How? Sprinkle powder over or submerge sheets in liquid for 5 minutes. The sheets become a malleable, springy, jelly-like mass. Bloomed powdered gelatin is slushy and opaque. Fresh kiwi, pineapple, figs, and papaya have an enzyme that prevents gelling, but pasteurization or boiling the fruit solves the problem.
Completely melt gelatin over heat or with hot liquid.
How? Drain water from sheets; add sheets to the room-temperature liquid specified in your recipe, and gently heat, stirring to eliminate clumps. Bloomed powdered gelatin can be handled the same way or stirred with very hot liquid until it's clear and viscous. Don't boil gelatin; it will lose its gelling power.
Stabilize: When added to whipped creams, mousses, and foams, gelatin traps air and stops liquid from leaching out.
Make Clear Consommé: Mix broth or juice with gelatin, and freeze in ice-cube trays; then thaw in the refrigerator through a strainer to filter the liquid. The gelatin attaches to solids and prevents them from passing through as the liquid melts.