Gelatin is obtained by boiling bone and cartilage tissue from different animals (typically pigs, bovines, or fish) Gelatin is a substance used to make aspics, confectionery, cakes, and entremets. It is colorless (translucent, sometimes a very pale yellow), tasteless, and odorless: Only its gelling properties are of culinary interest. In France, and generally in Europe, it is considered an ingredient, not an additive. Vegetarians prefer other « natural » gelling agents, such as konjac (konnyaku), agar-agar, and pectin.
Gelatin (gelatin) can be bought in supermarkets. It comes as (leaf) gelatin sheets, which needs to be soaked before use, and also as a powder (with added maltodextrin), which is less likely to form lumps.
Soak gelatin sheets for a few minutes in cold water (eight 2-g sheets per 500 ml of liquid), then dry before dissolving in a hot but not boiling liquid. Mix with a whisk before the preparations sets.
Gelatin is used to set certain preparations. For instance, it makes it possible to prepare fruit mousses, bavarois, charlottes, panna cotta, and savory preparations such as gelatins (jellies) and terrines.
Gelatin sheets tend to absorb moisture. Once a package is open, store in an airtight container in a dry place.
Gelatin is very high in calories. However, because only a few sheets are used, its contribution is limited. It has little nutritional value because it contains no vitamins or nutrients.
Agar (agar-agar) is a plant-base gelling agent found as a powder or as strands.