The most common culinary use for
gelatinis 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-Oand Knox from Kraft Foodsin North America, Hartley's(formerly Rowntree's) and Bompas & Parr (jellymongers)[ [http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/more-advice/jobs/2008/07/24/how-life-s-so-sweet-for-jellymongers-115875-20668602/ The Mirror] ] in the United Kingdomand Aeroplane Jellyin Australia.
* In the
United Kingdom, Ireland, and many of the Commonwealth Nations gelatin desserts are called jelly.
* In the
United Statesand Canadagelatin desserts are called gelatin and jello (generic name based on Jell-O).
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 productby the US federal government.
While eating tainted beef can lead to variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(vCJD) in humansFact|date=April 2008, there are no known cases of vCJD transmitted through collagen products such as gelatin.
Vodka jelly, (often known as Jell-O Shots in the US) is a party food where some sort of alcohol, usually
rum, vodka, tequilaor sometimes even grain alcohol replaces some of the water or fruit juice used to congeal the gel.
The American satirist and mathematician
Tom Lehrerhas 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 vodkagelatin as a way to circumvent a restriction of alcoholic beverages on base [ [http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2000-04-19/feature_full.html San Francisco - News - That Was the Wit That Was ] ] , but the claim that he was first is untrue. The earliest published recipe dates from 1862, found in [http://books.google.com/books?id=QDUEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA24&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=0_0#PPA22,M1|"How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion"] by Jerry Thomas: the recipe calls for gelatin, cognac, rum, and lemon juice. ["The Joy of Mixology" by Gary Regan. Clarkson Potter, 2003. Pages 15-16, 150. ]
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. [ [http://www.myscienceproject.org/j-shot.html The Ultimate Jell-O Shot] ]
Some gelatinous desserts can be made with
agarinstead of gelatin, allowing them to congeal more quickly and at moderatly lower 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 pectinand 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 kosherand halaalcooking. Though it, too, is a type of seaweed, it tends not to have an unpleasant smell during cooking as agar sometimes does.
Gelatin consists of partially hydrolyzed
collagen, a proteinwhich is highly abundant in some animal tissues such as bone and skin. Although many gelatin desserts incorporate fruit, some fresh fruits contain proteolytic enzymes; these enzymes cut the gelatin molecule in to 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'.
pineapplecontains the protease(protein cutting enzyme) bromelain, kiwi fruitcontains actinidin, figs contain ficain, and both papayaand pawpawcontain papain. Cooking or canningdenature and inactivate the proteases, so canned pineapple, for example, works fine in a gelatin dessert.
* [http://www.kraftfoods.com/jello/explore/history/ Kraft Foods: Jell-O history]
* [http://www.cooper.edu/engineering/chemechem/gelatin/gel.html Cooper Union history page]
* [http://www.jellymongers.co.uk Bompas & Parr: Jellymongers]
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