Posts Tagged With: Thickening agent

Gelatin – Anyone for some boiled pig skin?

What is Gelatin?

The chemical structure of gelatin is what makes gelatin water soluble; form digestible gels and films that are strong, flexible, and transparent; and form a positive binding action that is useful in food processing, pharmaceuticals, photography, and paper production.

Gelatine  is an emulsifier or gelling agent

Gel Formation

Gel Formation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen, a natural protein present in the tendons, ligaments, and tissues of mammals. It is produced by boiling the connective tissues, bones and skins of animals, usually cows and pigs. Gelatin’s ability to form strong, transparent gels and flexible films that are easily digested, soluble in hot water, and capable of forming a positive binding action have made it a valuable commodity in food processing, pharmaceuticals, photography, and paper production.”

So that you know where you come into contact with gelatin(e):

  • Foods
    • Gummed candies, jellies, marshmallow, taffy, yoghurt, powdered milk, gelatin desserts and puddings (e.g., “Jello”), cakes, fondant, ice cream, fruit preserve, wine and beer fining or clarification and prepared meat products.
  • Pharmaceutical
    • immunizations,hard and soft capsules, in vitamins as a coating, shampoos, face masks, cosmetics under the name hydrolyzed collagen, nail polish remover, stabilizers for oil emulsions, biological substrate to culture adherent cells and glycerinated gelatin for suppositories
  • Photographic
    • paper coating, plate coatings and as a component in silver halide emulsion coatings
  • Technical
    • Micro-encapsulation, binder in match heads and sandpaper, dying and tanning supplies, some glossy printing papers, artistic papers, playing cards, and it maintains the wrinkles in crepe-paper, bacteriological culture media and in emulsion polymerization

Gelatin is also known as

E #441 on food ingredients listings, however

…you may not see that anymore because instead of an additive,

Gelatine has now been classed as food .


Carrageen (carrageenan, Irish moss),

seaweeds (algin, agar-agar, kelp—used in jellies, plastics, medicine),

pectin from fruits,


locust bean gum,

cotton gum,

silica gel

Hypromellose is a vegan-acceptable alternative to gelatin,

marsh mallow plant,

vegetarian capsules and

digital cameras because there is no film.

Check out this blog:


Until the mid-nineteenth century, making gelatin was a laborious task. Calves’ feet were loaded into a large kettle that was then placed over a fire. The feet were boiled for several hours after which the liquid was strained and the bones were discarded. After setting for 24 hours, a layer of fat would rise to the top. This was skimmed off and discarded. Sweeteners and or flavorings were added to the liquid and it was poured into molds and allowed again to set.

A calf in England, New Forest national park. (...

A calf in England, New Forest national park. ("Not afraid of a close-up, but he went running when mother mooed.") (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the 1840s, however, some producers were grinding the set gelatin into a fine powder or cutting it into sheets. One of them was Charles B. Knox, a salesman from Johnston, New York, who hit on the idea of making gelatin more convenient after watching his wife Rose make it in their kitchen. Knox packaged dried sheets of gelatin and then hired salesmen to travel door-to-door to show women how to add liquid to the sheets and use it to make aspics, molds, and desserts. In 1896, Rose Knox published Dainty Desserts, a book of recipes using Knox gelatin. The first patent for a gelatin dessert was issued in 1845 to industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper. Cooper had already made a name for himself as the inventor of the Tom Thumb steam engine. He had also made a fortune in the manufacture of glue, a process similar to that for making gelatin.


Glue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1897, Pearl B. Wait, a carpenter and cough medicine manufacturer, developed a fruit-flavored gelatin. His wife, May Davis Wait, named his product Jell-O. The new product was not immediately popular and Wait sold the rights to the process to Orator Francis Woodward, owner of the Genesee Food Company, for $450. Sales continued to limp along until 1902 when an aggressive advertising campaign in Ladies Home Journal magazine generated enormous interest. Sales jumped to $250,000. The use of gelatin in food preparation increased six-fold in the 40-year period from 1936-1976. Today, 400 million packages of Jello-O are produced each year. Over a million packages are purchased or eaten each day.


Jell-O (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the field of photography, gelatin was introduced in the late 1870s as a substitute for wet collodion. It was used to coat dry photographic plates, marking the beginning of modern photographic methods.

Photo of 21 rue Hautefeuille in Paris, dated 1...

Photo of 21 rue Hautefeuille in Paris, dated 1869-1870 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a protein, it contains many amino acids that lend itself to a diverse amount of applications.

Use in the manufacture of medicinal capsules occurred in the twentieth century.

A gelatin capsule for medicine

A gelatin capsule for medicine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Manufacturing Process

The worldwide production amount of gelatin is about 300,000 tons per year (roughly 600 million lbs). On a commercial scale, gelatin is made from by-products of the meat and leather industry. Recently, fish by-products have also been considered because they eliminate some of the religious obstacles surrounding gelatin consumption.  Gelatin is derived mainly from pork skins, pork and cattle bones, or split cattle hides.  The raw materials are prepared by different curing, acid, and alkali processes which are employed to extract the dried collagen hydrolysate. These processes may take up to several weeks, and differences in such processes have great effects on the properties of the final gelatin products.

A pie chart showing the distribution of materi...

A pie chart showing the distribution of materials used in gelatin production. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gelatin can also be prepared in the home. Boiling certain cartilaginous cuts of meat or bones will result in gelatin being dissolved into the water. Depending on the concentration, the resulting broth (when cooled) will naturally form a jelly or gel. This process is used for aspic.

The manufacturing processes of gelatin consists of three main stages:

  1. Pretreatments to make the raw materials ready for the main extraction step and to remove impurities which may have negative effects on physio chemical properties of the final gelatin product,
  2. The main extraction step, which is usually done with hot water or dilute acid solutions as a multi-stage extraction to hydrolyze collagen into gelatin, and finally,
  3. The refining and recovering treatments including filtration, clarification, evaporation, sterilization, drying, rutting, grinding, and sifting to remove the water from the gelatin solution, to blend the gelatin extracted, and to obtain dried, blended and ground final product

 …mmmmmm and then you eat it…if you didn’t read the label!


this part made me laugh…

Other uses

  • Blocks of ballistic gelatin simulate muscle tissue as a standardized medium for testing firearms ammunition.
  • Gelatin is used by synchronized swimmers to hold their hair in place during their routines as it will not dissolve in the cold water of the pool. It is frequently referred to as “knoxing,” a reference to Knox brand gelatin.[8]
  • When added to boiling water and cooled, unflavored gelatin can make a home-made hair styling gel that is cheaper than many commercial hair styling products, but by comparison has a shorter shelf life (about a week) when stored in this form (usually in a refrigerator). After being applied to scalp hair, it can be removed with rinsing and some shampoo.
  • It is commonly used as a biological substrate to culture adherent cells.
  • Also used by those who are sensitive to tannins (which can irritate the stomach) in teas, soups or brews.
  • It may be used as a medium with which to consume LSD. LSD in gelatin form is known as “windowpane” or “geltabs.”
  • Gelatin is used to make the shells of paintballs, similar to the way pharmaceutical capsules are produced.
  • Gelatin is also used as an ingredient in implantable medical devices, such as in some bone void fillers. Doctors may discuss this with their patients in cases of religious beliefs.
  • Gelatin is also used in nail polish remover and makeup applications. The gelatin is often tinted in different colors to match a model’s natural skin tone.
  • Leaf or sheet gelatin is also used directly in food-based model-making, for example to make translucent, edible, diamond-paned windows in gingerbread houses.[9]
  • Gelatin may additionally be used as a technique within the process of fine art printmaking. The prints are made by creating a block of gelatin and applying printing inks. The gelatin is made using twice the normal amount of gelatin granules to the usual amount of water. Once set – printmaking ink (usually water based) is applied to its surface. Other water based media may also be applied. Items such as e.g., dried grass, leaves and paper stencils are placed onto the ‘inked surface. Gelatin monotype is best done with the use of medium to lightweight paper. This is gently pressed onto the inked plate once the ‘design’ has been composed.
Categories: F.Y.I - C.S.I, warnings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at