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Gelatin dessert

    The most common culinary use for gelatin is as a main ingredient in varieties of gelatin desserts. Unprepared gelatin for desserts is often marketed as a flavored powder or concentrated gelatinous solid. Prepared gelatin desserts are marketed in a variety of forms. Popular brands include Jell-O from Kraft Foods in North America, Hartley's (formerly Rowntree's) in the United Kingdom and Aeroplane Jelly in Australia.


Regional naming

  • In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of the Commonwealth Nations gelatin desserts are called jelly.
  • In the United States and Canada gelatin desserts are called gelatin and jello (generic name based on Jell-O).


The production of gelatin starts with the soaking of cattle hides or pig skins in either a dilute acid or lime solution. Pig or cattle bones are degreased and soaked in acid or lime to remove the calcium. The resulting soft tissue is called ossein. The ossein is then soaked in the same manner as the hide or skin. This process partially hydrolyzes the collagen; which is not water soluble prior to this step. The hide, skin or bone is washed and then cooked in hot water to extract the gelatin. The extract is then dried and ground to form a powder.

To make gelatin desserts, typically powdered gelatin is mixed with sugar, and additives such as adipic acid, fumaric acid, sodium citrate, and artificial flavorings and food colors. Very hot water is added to swell and melt the powdered gelatin. The dessert gels slowly as it cools.

Because the collagen is processed extensively, the final product is not categorized as a meat or animal product by the US federal government. A recent ruling by the FDA allows gelatin to be used in organic foods even though it is not an organic product.

Contrary to popular perception, horns and hooves are not used.


While eating tainted beef can lead to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans, there are no known cases of vCJD transmitted through collagen products such as gelatin.

Gelatin shots

  A gelatin shot or jello shot (often known as a vodka jelly in the United Kingdom) is a party food where some sort of alcohol, usually rum, vodka, tequila or sometimes even grain alcohol replaces some of the water or fruit juice used to congeal the gel.

The American satirist and mathematician Tom Lehrer has been rumored to have been the first to invent 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[1], but this claim has not been substantiated.

The maximum alcohol content is somewhere between 19 and 20 oz. of vodka per 3 oz. package of Jell-O powder, or about 30% alcohol by volume.[1]


Some gelatinous desserts can be made with agar instead of gelatin, allowing them to congeal more quickly and at higher temperatures. Agar, a vegetable product made from seaweed, is used especially in quick jelly powder mix and Asian jelly desserts, but also as an alternative that is acceptable to vegans and vegetarians. Agar is more closely related to pectin and other gelling plant carbohydrates than to gelatin.

Another vegetarian alternative to gelatin is carrageenan. This alternative sets more firmly than agar, and is often used in kosher cooking. Though it, too, is a type of seaweed, it tends not to have an unpleasant smell during cooking as agar sometimes does.


Uncooked pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which must not be allowed to mix with a gelatin dessert mix as it will stop the gelatin from setting properly by breaking down the gelatin. Papaya and pawpaw contain the enzyme papain, kiwi fruit contains actinidin, and figs contain ficain, all with similar effects. Cooking denatures the enzyme, rendering it inoperative.

See also

  • Jelly bean


  1. ^
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gelatin_dessert". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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