Sheet Gelatin – What is it & How to Use it
Have you ever wondered how to get perfectly-textured, creamy and firm panna cotta every time? Or how to create beautifully transparent gel toppings for jelly or underwater cakes? Professional chefs, cake decorators, and commercial bakers have long known the secret thickening agent that makes set, gelled, and transparent desserts, sauces, jellies, and glazes a snap: gelatin sheets.
Gelatin is a flavorless, colorless, odorless, pure protein used to thicken and solidify liquid ingredients. This versatile gelling agent contains no allergens, fat, or carbohydrates but is not Kosher or Halal. When added to liquids, it will absorb anywhere from 5 to 10 times its weight, creating a thick, viscous, gel-like texture that adds silky mouthfeel to the finished product.
Gelatin vs Gelatine
The only difference between “gelatin” and “gelatine” is the spelling, as the two versions mean the same thing. Other names for gelatin include: hydrolyzed collagen, hydrolyzed gelatine, and gelatine or collagen hydrolysate. However, no matter what it’s called, gelatin is a pure, all-natural animal protein, most commonly made from collagen from either cows (bovine gelatin) or pigs (porcine gelatin).
Once processed and dried, this versatile ingredient is either ground into a powder, made into granules, or formed into easy-to-use flat sheets. What gelatine does in food is absorb liquid, creating a gel-like consistency. Gelatin’s low melting point gives gelled foods a smooth, silky mouthfeel. The exact texture of the finished product is determined by the concentration of gelatin to liquid but is also influenced by temperature.
Gelatin Sheets vs Gelatin Powder
Although the gelatin is the same in powdered and sheet gelatin, the form helps determine how easy the ingredient is to measure and work with. Sheet gelatin will dissolve slower than powder or granules, but sheets will also help create a finished product that is clearer and more translucent.
Substitute gelatin sheets for powdered gelatin in recipes by using one sheet per half cup of liquid.
How to use Gelatin Sheets?
Gelatin sheets are easy to use and ensure that repeat recipes stay consistent, making them ideal for both professional chefs, home cooks, and institutional use. Once bloomed, the hydrated leaves are added to liquid ingredients in order to create gelled or set desserts, glazes, puddings, bavarois, jellies, to make and decorate jelly cakes, and much more.
When working with gelatin it is important to keep in mind that certain ingredients can strengthen or weaken gel strength. Sugars (except fructose), Alcohol (except highly acidic wines), and Milk will increase gel strength. Salt, Fructose Sugars, and Acids under 4 PH will decrease gel strength. Tropical fruits contain a natural enzyme that causes the gel to break down, and so must be cooked or at a minimum boiled for a few minutes before being added to gelatin in order to counteract the effect of the enzyme.
Gold vs Silver vs Bronze Sheets
Gelatin sheets are available in different strengths that determine the stiffness of the final product. This measurement is called “bloom” or “bloom strength.” Low bloom strength is under 150 and creates a soft consistency, while higher bloom strengths can go as high as 300 for stiff texture. The higher the bloom, the stronger and more firm the gelled product will be. Lower blooms are ideal for creamy desserts, while higher blooms help molded or shaped dishes hold together better.
Note that it is not necessary to convert between different sheet blooms, as this is taken care of in the manufacturing process. The weights of the sheets are different, so that 1 sheet gold = 1 sheet silver = 1 sheet bronze, making them even easier to use.
How to Bloom Gelatin
Before gelatin sheets can be used, they must be pre-hydrated. This is called “blooming,” and is necessary to avoid clumping during preparation and a lumpy finished product.
To bloom gelatin, soak the sheet(s) in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. If using multiple sheets, place them in the water one at a time to ensure maximum hydration. Strain or drain the water and remove the sheets from the liquid. Gently squeeze or shake each sheet to remove excess water. To use, add the bloomed sheet(s) to a room temperature or warm liquid ingredient and stir until completely dissolved. Do not boil, as this will cause the gelatin to lose its gelling strength.
What is Leaf Gelatin Used for?
Gelatin sheets are used in both sweet and savory dishes and recipes. This versatile ingredient is in so many different dishes that it’s nearly impossible to list them all! In addition to the entire class of desserts known as “gelatin desserts,” gelatin sheets are the secret ingredient in everything from marshmallows to gummy candies and even classic Bavarois fillings. Classic savory recipes for aspic and head cheese depend on gelatin for their texture. Gelatin is also used as a stabilizer as well as thickener for foods like yogurt, ice cream, and margarine.
- Gelatin / Jelly Desserts: Trifles, Parfaits, Stained Glass Gelatin (Gelatina De Mosaico), Retro Ambrosia Salads, Fruit Jelly Cakes, Flavored Jellies, Rainbow Jelly Cake, Layered Desserts, Shaped Jellies, Mousse Cakes, Jelly/Jello Shots
- Cream Desserts: Panna Cotta, Cheesecake, Blanc Mange, Milk Puddings, Cream Pies, Custards
- Fillings: Bavarois, Crème Suisse, Bavarian Cream, Mousse Cake Filling, Pie & Tart Fillings, Stabilized Whipped Creams
- Gummies: Gummy Bears and other Edible Gummy Candy
- Savory Dishes: Terrines, Pâté, Asian-Style Dumpling Fillings, Aspic, Head Cheese
- Marshmallow and other Foam Desserts: Marshmallows, Cloud Topping, Foam Candies
- Dairy/Frozen Dairy Desserts: Stabilize and thicken Ice Cream, Yogurt
- Art Desserts: 3D gel art creates flowers and shapes by injecting colored gels or thickened liquids into a clear or translucent gelled base to create dazzling desserts with a fantastic or realistic look
- Decorations: Mirror Glaze, Gelatin Bubbles, Gingerbread House Windows, Edible Plastic Wrap, Edible Films
Is Gelatin the same as Jello?
Jello is a flavored gelatin dessert that is so popular that it’s become what is known as a “generic trademark.” This means that the brand name “Jell-O” became so associated with the jiggly dessert that it became synonymous with it. Gelatin, on the other hand, is the actual ingredient that gives jello its jiggle.
Where to Buy Professional Strength Gelatin Sheets
OliveNation sells Champion brand pure, unflavored Grade A gelatin in sheets of different bloom strengths. Buy a package for home cooking or special event preparation, or order wholesale gelatin sheets in bulk for commercial bakery, catering, or institutional food service use.