Gelatin is my all-time favorite superfood. Not only is it fun to make jiggly desserts out of it, but gelatin is actually a great source of the crucial amino acids glycine and proline which our bodies need.
Incorporating gelatin into your everyday life is fairly easy. You can just mix it into smoothies, make puddings, or even savory dishes. I have a lot of these recipes in my eBook, The Gelatin Secret.
But I also get that using gelatin does have a bit of a learning curve. If you are just getting started with gelatin, here are some useful tips and tricks for using it!
1. Gelatin Packet Measurements
Most gelatin recipes call for a “packet” of gelatin. Sorry to break it to you but the only gelatin which comes in packets is stuff that I would never eat! Aside from all of the additives it contains, the gelatin is so super-processed that it is unlikely to deliver much in terms of health benefits. Read more about it in my comparison of gelatin brands.
Thus, it is really important to know conversion measurements when using gelatin.
- 1 Gelatin Packet (1/4 ounce) = 2 ¼ to 2 ½ tsp
2. Gelatin Sheet Measurements
Have a recipe which calls for sheet gelatin (aka leaf gelatin) but you are using powdered gelatin? Honestly, it is hard to find an exact gelatin sheet-to-powder conversion. The conversion varies depending on the type of sheets being used and their size.
Here is the conversion that I recommend:
- 1 tsp gelatin powder = 1 1/3 to 2 sheets of gelatin (3” x 5” size)
- 1 packet of gelatin = 3 to 5 sheets of gelatin
3. Gelatin to Liquid Ratios
Experimenting with your own gelatin recipes? Here’s how much gelatin is needed to set a liquid:
- 2 ½ tsp of gelatin will firmly set 2 cups of liquid
- 2 ½ tsp of gelatin will softly set 3 cups of liquid
4. Bloom Gelatin First!
If you just dump gelatin powder into a base, you might end up with clumps instead of a smooth texture. To prevent this, you need to “bloom” the gelatin first. To bloom gelatin:
- Sprinkle the gelatin on top of cold water.
- Mix it into the water.
- Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
- The gelatin will absorb the water. It should have a consistency like applesauce.
- Now you can add the bloomed gelatin to your recipe.
5. Bloom with Cold, Add to Warm
Gelatin should always be bloomed with cold water. If you use hot water, the exterior of the granules or sheets will swell too fast and that will prevent water from getting into the center.
However, the bloomed gelatin should always be added to a warm base. Otherwise, the gelatin will start to set too quickly and get clumpy.
6. Using Sheet Gelatin
Sheet gelatin also needs to be bloomed but the process is a bit different.
- Put the sheet gelatin into a bowl of cold water for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use about 1 cup of water per sheet.
- Once the sheet is softened, wring it out gently to get rid of excess water.
- Now add warm liquid (the amount stated in the recipe) to dissolve the gelatin sheets.
7. When to Use Hydrolyzed Collagen
When shopping for gelatin, you will probably come across “hydrolyzed collagen.” The main difference between the two is that gelatin gels and collagen won’t. This makes collagen great for adding to things you don’t want to gel – like your morning coffee. You can read more about the difference between gelatin and collagen.
8. Gelatin Set Too Quickly?
Gelatin starts setting quickly, so you need to work FAST. Make sure you have all of your ingredients and equipment ready before you bloom the gelatin. If the gelatin starts setting too quickly, you can heat the gelatin to soften it.
9. Don’t Microwave Gelatin!
I get that microwaves are convenient, but don’t heat your gelatin in the microwave. When you do this, the amino acids in gelatin go through structural changes and turn into hazardous, TOXIC cis-amino acids.
As Doctor Kaayla Daniels formerly with the Weston A. Price Foundation, says:
“In other words, the gelatin in homemade broth confers wonderous benefits, but if you heat it in the microwave, it becomes toxic to the liver, kidneys and nervous system.”
10. Don’t Boil Gelatin
Boiling gelatin won’t make it toxic like microwaving will. However, gelatin’s strength declines at over 212 degrees F.
Interestingly, boiling only affects gelatin’s rigidity and not viscosity. So, the boiled gelatin will turn out gooey instead of jiggly-firm.
11. Nix the Sugar
There are a zillion reasons not to eat sugar. Aside from the health implications, there is one more reason not to use sugar with gelatin.
Sugar can prevent gelatin from firming. A gelatin dessert with lots of sugar might not set as firmly. Instead, try using natural sweeteners like agave syrup or raw honey with gelatin!
12. Some Fruits Might Prevent Gelatin from Setting
Want to make a gelatin dessert with pineapple, kiwi, or figs? Be warned that these fruits contain enzymes which might prevent the proteins in gelatin from firming.
One way around this is to boil the fruits first. Boiling will destroy the enzymes which normally would keep the gelatin from firming.
13. Layering Gelatin
One way to make an impressive gelatin dessert is to mix up different flavors and layer them. It takes some practice, so don’t sweat if you don’t get it on the first try!
In order to layer gelatin, you have to let the first layer chill so it is set but not firm. Otherwise, the new layer will heat up the layer beneath and the colors will run together. However, if the layer has firmed up too much, the layers won’t melt together and will come apart.
14. Choose the Right Gelatin Mold Material
You can use glass or ceramic molds for gelatin or even cupcake tins. But good luck trying to remove gelatin from these molds! I personally prefer silicone gelatin molds or metal molds. These molds can be wiggled to help release the gelatin.
15. Removing Gelatin Treats from Molds
Slide a knife around the edges of the mold to get it unstuck then flip it over. If gravity won’t do the trick, you can always dip the underside of the mold in warm water. It will melt the gelatin a bit so it slides right out!
16. Put Gelatin into Popsicles and Sorbet
Here’s a cool gelatin trick which a lot of people don’t know about! You can put gelatin into popsicles or sorbet. It adds a lot of nutrition. Gelatin doesn’t have any flavor so your kids won’t even know there’s gelatin in their pops!
The gelatin also prevents the treat from melting so quickly. If you are making fruit popsicles (which tend to freeze into rock-hard blocks), the gelatin will give them a softer, creamier texture.
17. Suspend Food Inside Gelatin
This is another gelatin trick which takes some practice but the results look really impressive! First, pour your gelatin into a mold and let it set a bit. Then mix foods like fruit into the gelatin and they will be suspended in the dessert.
The gelatin has to be the perfect amount of firmness for this to work. If it is too soft, the food will just sink to the bottom. If it has set too long, bubbles will appear when you mix in the food.
18. Need Your Gelatin to Set Faster?
Gelatin desserts usually need to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours to set, but 24 hours is better to make sure it is fully set. If you are pressed for time, just put the dessert into the freezer. Cold speeds up the setting process!
19. Agar Agar is a Vegetarian Substitute
If you are serving vegetarians and need a gelatin substitute, agar agar will work. The ratios are different though – you’ll need 1 tsp to set 2 cups of liquid. Also note that agar agar sets faster than gelatin and will set in room temperature.
Just don’t expect to get any of the health benefits of gelatin from agar agar! It doesn’t contain glycine and proline like gelatin does.
20. Make a Gelatin Hair Mask
Gelatin isn’t just for eating! You can also use it to improve the texture of your hair. Try this Gelatin Hair Mask Recipe.
21. Make Savory Recipes Too!
Gelatin is usually used for sweet desserts. However, it is a great addition to savory dishes as well. For example, it will add a lot of body to a Bolognese sauce. Since gelatin has no flavor, don’t be afraid to experiment with other recipes.
In my eBook The Gelatin Secret, you can find both sweet and savory recipes along with tons of useful information about how gelatin can revitalize your health.
Download The Gelatin Secret to learn how to make the most out of this amazing superfood!