Gelatin – properties and application. How to make gelatin?

Gelatin is an animal protein produced from collagen. When dissolved in water, it forms a viscous solution, which takes the form of a jelly after cooling. Gelatin has many properties, which is why it has found wide application, not only in the food industry, but also in cosmetics, where it is used, among others as a hair mask. Check what else gelatin is used for and how to make it.

What is gelatin?

Gelatin is an animal protein derived from collagen, a high molecular weight polypeptide, a hydrocolloid, i.e. a substance that is very soluble in water and forms a three-dimensional network in solution. Collagen itself is the main connective tissue protein that builds tendons and skin, as well as bones. Collagen accounts for about 30% of all proteins in animal organisms.

The gelatin production process is long and complicated, and its purpose is to transform collagen into a water-soluble substance with the ability to form gels. Gelatin contains the same amino acid sequence as collagen. It is mainly made of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.

Gelatin – pork and more

There are two main types of gelatin – type A, obtained by the acid method, and type B, obtained by the alkaline method. They differ in properties and possibilities of application. The most important feature of gelatin is the ability to form reversible gels. The phenomenon occurs at a solution concentration above 0.5%.

The gelation process is an attempt to return single gelatin polypeptide chains to the form of native collagen. Gelatin passes from the gel form into a solution at a temperature of 30 – 40 degrees Celsius, which determines its numerous food applications. Other parameters include hardness, viscosity, melting point, gelation temperature and gelation time.

The properties of gelatin depend on its molecular weight and amino acid structure, which in turn is related to the type of raw material and the method of obtaining gelatin. The higher the amino acid proline and hydroxyproline content in gelatin, the stronger the gelability. The basic species of gelatin found in commerce are

Food gelatin, like the others, is made from pig and bovine skins and ossein (a substance of intercellular bone tissue that provides bones with elasticity and strength). It dissolves in water only when warm, it gives a gelation effect. It is sold in the form of granules, flakes or powder.

Quickly soluble gelatin swells in cold water. Occurs only as a powder. The gelatin hydrolyzate dissolves in cold water but does not show gelation. It also comes in the form of a powder.

Gelatin – properties and application

It is used not only in the food industry, but also in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and various technical applications. The pharmaceutical industry uses gelatin primarily to make soft and hard capsules and to coat tablets, which facilitates swallowing and improves taste.

Gelatin is a very important additive in the production of food, medicine, some cosmetics and in photography.

It can be found as an additive in dragees, liquid medicines and granules. Tablet coating and encapsulation also means that the drug has a longer shelf life, and oxidizes more slowly. Gelatin is especially popular when encapsulating fat-soluble vitamins – vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E.

It is used in the production of vaccines. It is a binder in tablets. In the production of cosmetics, gelatin is usually a thickener and carrier of active ingredients.

It also protects the skin against the potentially irritating effects of certain cosmetics ingredients. Gelatin can be used in hair shampoos, hair conditioners, washing gels, liquid soaps, antiperspirants, moisturizing lotions, creams with a UV filter, hair mousses or nail polish removers. Gelatin in cosmetic products is safe. It does not adversely affect the skin and rarely causes allergies.

Sweet jellies couldn't be done without gelatin!
Sweet jellies couldn’t be done without gelatin!

Gelatin is used to make photographic emulsions. It is used in developing solutions for photos, in which it allows for better quality prints. Technical gelatin has the ability to bind silver halides on film and paper. Printing dyes, ink, banknote printing paper, silk and matches are also produced using gelatin.

Gelatin in the food industry

Gelatin as a hydrocolloid has found wide application in the food industry. Is a food additive bearing the symbol E 441, recognized as completely safe for health. The four main product groups in which gelatin is used are

Gelatin improves the confectioning process. It also helps maintain the right structure when freezing and thawing confectionery products. Deep-frozen dough bread is now very common.

Gelatin binds pieces of meat or fish in meat and delicatessen products. It allows greater water binding and improves the color stability of sausages and other meat products. It is necessary for the production of dry jellies with meat and vegetables and sweet jellies. Gelatin is increasingly being used as a coating in sausages and sausages.

The product is immersed in a hot gelatin solution, and the resulting casing prevents the cured meat from drying out and oxidizing. The gelatin coating can also be a carrier of spices and herbs on the surface of the product, which improves its appearance.