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Gelatin vs. Gulaman

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Although gelatin is locally known as gulaman, they are not the same in terms of texture and properties. While gelatin is a protein, gulaman is a carbohydrate sourced from a plant, specifically seaweed, which is also known as agar. Boiling water is needed to dissolve gulaman, while only hot water is required to dissolve gelatin. Gelatin sets at a refrigerated temperature, while gulaman sets at room temperature.

With regard to texture, gulaman produces a firm textured bite to it, while gelatin produces a pleasing melt-in-the-mouth texture that allows the exquisite flavor of the product to linger long after it is gone.

Here are some  time-tested tips when using gelatin:

  • Unprepared gelatin has an indefinite shelf life as long as it is wrapped airtight and stored in a cool, dry place.

  • Keep gelatin dishes refrigerated until ready to serve to maintain their gelatinous state.

  • Do not add fresh or frozen pineapple to gelatin. These fruits, along with raw figs, kiwi fruit, guava, ginger root, and papaya, contain an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down gelatin causing it to lose its thickening properties.

  • The enzymes are deactivated by cooking, so canned pineapple and kiwi are fine to use.

  • To avoid clumping, dry unflavored gelatin should be mixed with a little cold water first for three to five minutes to moisten and separate before adding hot water.

  • Store gelatin dessert in a covered container to avoid the formation of a thick rubbery skin on the surface.

  • Too much sugar can inhibit gelatinization. The more sugar in the recipe, the softer the resultant gelatin will be.

  • Firmness varies on the ration of water to gelatin and temperature. You can successfully melt down (gently using a double-boiler) and re-chill gelatin several times before the mixture loses its thickening ability.

  • Gelatin takes twice as long to dissolve when used with cream or milk.

  • When using sugar with unflavored gelatin, mix the sugar and gelatin first before dissolving.

  • To suspend fruits, meats, or vegetables in gelatin, chill until it's the consistency of cold egg whites. Them mix on the additions and chill until completely set.

  • Be sure to drain all solids of their liquid before adding to gelatin to avoid watering down the gelatin.

  • For two cups of gelatin mixture, allow one to two cups of solids, either minced, cubed, or cut into small pieces.

  • To easily unmold gelatin, spray the mold with cooking oil before filling. If you want to avoid an oily film, which might cloud the surface by using oil spray, simply rinse the mold with cold water prior to filling. Or dip the mold into warm (not hot) water to the depth of the gelatin for five to 10 seconds, loosen edges with a knife or spatula, and unmold. Return to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to refirm.

  • Use one envelope (one tablespoon or ¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin to two cups of water for standard firmness. Decrease or increase water for your particular needs. One three-ounce package of flavored, sweetened gelatin needs two cups of water. One tablespoon of unflavored powdered gelatin equals four sheets of leaf gelatin.

  • Two hours of chilling should be enough for standard clear molds, while it may take up to four hours for those with additions. Layered gelatins will take longer, since each layer must be individually chilled and firmed before adding the next layer.

  • If you are doubling a recipe originally calling for two cups of liquid, use only 3-3/4 cups of liquid in the doubled recipe.

  • Other liquids can be used in place of water to prepare gelatin, including fruit juices, clarified vegetable or meat stock, wine, vegetable juices, and seafood broth's.

  • Do not bring gelatin mixtures to a full boil or you risk losing its thickening properties.

So, if you're looking for something different to satisfy your sweet tooth, jazz up your desserts with gelatin!

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September 20, 2017

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