Panna cotta, chilled soufflés, mousses, blancmange, terrines, marshmallow; gelatine has more uses in the kitchen than simply creating delicious jellies.
A colourless and odourless ingredient (originating in Europe in the 17th century), gelatine is dissolved in warm liquid which, when cooled, sets into a solid or semi-solid form.
Juices, teas, infusions and other liquids, when combined with gelatine, become solid jellies, while cream and sugar become a simple, elegant panna cotta. Gelatine can also be found in countless other desserts and savoury dishes.
With the spread of molecular gastronomy principles around the world, savoury jellies and other ‘set’ components are increasing in popularity, ensuring gelatine will not soon fade in popularity.
Gelatine (spelled ‘gelatin’ in US English) is generally available in two forms: powdered gelatine and leaf gelatine, the latter set into clear sheets that are easily managed and dissolve cleanly into hot liquid.
What is the difference between powdered gelatine and leaf gelatine? While they are essentially the same compound, the way they interact with liquid varies.
Leaf gelatine is the gelatine of choice for most professional chefs because it sets clearer and with a smoother consistency than powdered gelatine. It also imparts none of its own flavour into the dish, which can be a concern with powdered gelatine.
Using Gelatine Leaves
Soak Leaf/leaves in COLD water for 1 minute. By hand, squeeze out the cold water, then dissolve the soft leaf/leaves by stirring them into the warm liquid.
When you’re carefully combining flavours to create a subtle dish, using leaf gelatine will give you complete control over the finished product.
Tips for using gelatine:
Leaf gelatine requires soaking in cold liquid before being added to hot liquid to dissolve.
Always ensure your gelatine is fully dissolved before chilling.
Keep gelatine in a well-sealed, cool, dry place.
Gelatine continues to solidify over time, so the texture and consistency of a dish you have pre-prepared can change by the time you serve it.
During the cooking process, boiling can damage the gelatine’s setting capability. Where possible, try to dissolve gelatine away off the heat.
Pineapple, kiwifruit and other (mostly tropical) fruits contain enzymes that can prevent gelatine from setting. These enzymes, however, are destroyed when the fruits are cooked.