Gelatin is one of the more unappreciated food ingredients these days and is often relegated to children’s snacks. However, it is an incredibly powerful and healthful substance that can do everything from building strong bones to giving you better sleep.
This ingredient comes from a cooked form of collagen. It is almost completely made up of protein, including some of the most important amino acids known as glycine, proline and glutamic acid. Thus, it most frequently comes from beef or pork although kosher gelatin is usually made from fish. Most often, you will see gelatin sold as a neutral-colored powder. It is tasteless and nearly colorless, meaning that you can add it to a wide variety of foods and drinks. However, you must bloom it before using it so that you do not end up with an unappetizing, gummy blob in your food.
Why Does Gelatin Need to Bloom?
Because gelatin is made from the ground, dehydrated tendons and ligaments of animals, it must be soaked in water or another liquid, such as juice or broth, to soften the particles so that they do not turn into hardened lumps. Once the gelatin is dissolved, it is perfectly smooth and translucent and can be easily added to any of your foods. If you do not bloom your gelatin first but instead add it directly to cold or even slightly cooled liquids, the gelatin will begin clumping over time.
How to Bloom Gelatin Powder
The most common form of gelatin is an easy-to-measure powder. The beauty of powdered gelatin is that you can use as much or as little as you would like. To bloom powdered gelatin, sprinkle your desired amount over some of the cool water or another liquid that is called for in your recipe. Let the gelatin rest for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
As the gelatin rests, heat the rest of the liquid called for in the recipe to just below a boil. When it is ready, gently pour the hot liquid over the gelatin-filled liquid. Use a whisk to stir the gelatin crystals completely into the liquid to ensure that they are completely dissolved. If they are not dissolved completely, you will still have issues with clumping later in your cooking process.
Be sure that you do not add gelatin to boiling water as the high temperature can ruin this ingredient’s ability to gel. If you want to create a gelatin mold, you will want to add approximately 2.5 teaspoons of gelatin powder to 2 cups of water. Use less than this for shakes, soups and other cooked or baked goods.
How to Bloom Sheet Gelatin
Although sheet gelatin is less familiar to many, it is an easy way to add this nutritious food to your life. Typically, you can assume that four sheets of gelatin is equivalent to one tablespoon of gelatin if you are using a substitute.
Sheet gelatin is equally easy to bloom. Simply submerge the number of sheets you would like to use in some cool water for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Unlike powdered gelatin, you do not need to measure the cold water exactly. Once the time is up, you will pick up the gelatin sheet from the water bath, wring out the water from it and add it to your recipe. If you are adding it to something warm or at room temperature, you will easily be able to whisk it into the food.
Benefits of Consuming Gelatin
Now that you know how to work with gelatin in your kitchen, you may be wondering why you should add it to any of your foods or drinks in the first place. Although gelatin may look insignificant, it actually packs a positive punch in your gut while also sending its powerful benefits throughout the rest of your body. Because it is made from the connective tissues of animals, it can actually help build up connective tissues in your own body. It has been shown to decrease the pain and stiffness typically associated with osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition, gelatin works powerfully on your skin and hair. Studies have shown that it improves skin elasticity and firmness while also smoothing out wrinkles, helping you appear younger. If you are experiencing hair loss, gelatin has been shown to increase hair numbers as well as hair mass.
Of course, gelatin also promotes complete gut health. It can significantly improve the health of the wall of your intestines, decreasing the chance that harmful substances from your gut will make their way into your bloodstream. It can be a great treatment for a leaky gut and may even be able to decrease the incidence of irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, glycine, one of the protein amino acids in gelatin, balances out digestive enzymes so that you do not end up with bloating, acid reflux, indigestion and other uncomfortable issues.
Gelatin has many other amazing benefits for the human body and should certainly be considered as part of a healthy diet for longevity and wellness. Some of its benefits include the following:
- Improves sleep
- Controls blood sugar
- May reduce growth of certain types of cancer cells
- Improves mood
- Decreases hunger
Using Gelatin in Your Daily Life
Gelatin is surprisingly multi-functional and can be used just as easily in cool smoothies and simple, healthy desserts as it can in baked goods and warm soups. Of course, it is most well-known for gelatinous, molded desserts, which you can make healthier by using 100% fruit juices and by adding fresh, whole fruits. You can also use gelatin in homemade gummy treats, which can be formed in molds. Smaller amounts of gelatin help to set custards and mousse in pies and desserts of all types.
You may also want to consider adding gelatin to shakes and smoothies. While this ingredient can add a good amount of protein to your drink, it also helps to thicken the shake, making it creamier. Be sure not to add more than two to three teaspoons of gelatin to a large shake, or you may find that it becomes too thick for your straw.
Gelatin also adds an incredible protein boost to your warm soups and stews. After blooming the gelatin, you can easily whisk it into your pot where it will create an incredibly smooth mouth-feel along with a bit of thickening depending on the amount you use. While leftover soup may become a bit gelatinous after refrigeration, it will quickly thin out again as you whisk your leftovers over a warm burner.
Interestingly, gelatin’s fabulous uses do not end in the kitchen. If you want to see thicker hair and younger-looking skin, you can apply it topically, such as in a homemade face mask or as a shampoo additive. For your shampoo, simply add half a teaspoon of gelatin to a full bottle of product.
If you have been missing out on the amazing benefits of gelatin, consider how you can start adding it to your life. It does its most powerful work when taken internally, but be sure to bloom your gelatin first for the smoothest, silkiest results in desserts, drinks and other foods.