If you’re a fan of jello, jello shots, panna cotta and other wiggly-jiggly desserts, chances are you have use gelatin a couple of times. I love the consistency of gelatins, it can be soft and can melt in your mouth, or have the feel of an “al dente” pasta depending on how it is cooked. Gelatin is a widely used ingredient not only in the kitchen but in other things such as cosmetics and even in pharmaceutical needs. Also, those candies and jellybeans and gummy worms that we all love contain gelatin. I always got some in the kitchen and I often use it to make desserts or to thicken some mousse or cream. But even so, I always have tendencies where I ran out of it. So people ask, what do you use when you are out of it? Is there any good gelatin substitute that you can suggest?
Gelatin is a type of protein from animals like pork, cattle, and others. And so a lot of my vegetarian and vegan friends often ask for good substitutes for gelatin that they can use. There are actually a lot of substitutes available that you can use if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. So in this post, we will discuss some substitutes that you can use that can also be used by our vegan friends who also happen to love wiggly-jiggly desserts and other recipes that need gelatin.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin is the peptides and proteins in animals that are processed by partial hydrolysis to create a thin sheet or powder. The end product is your gelatin which is a gelling ingredient that stabilizes your food. Basically, gelatin can give your food body to let it hold its shape. I know you pretty much know how it works.
Gelatin is one of the most effective stabilizers/gelling agent available that is why it use mainly used rather than other products. It requires easy steps for it to “bloom” and it also requires little time to stabilize your dish. You may need gelatin in puddings, jellies or other recipes where you need to thicken or make something obtain more form. I personally add gelatin on my arrowroot cakes like no-bake cheesecakes, mango ref-cake, my refrigerator tiramisu and so much more.
In finding a substitute, it greatly depends on what recipe you are cooking and also to what you are cooking, how stable or how strong your gelling agent should be and also if you need or want it to be vegan or vegetarian. We will give you lots of choices to choose from and I hope that one of this is available to you and suits your needs.
Gelatin Substitutes – Lots of vegan substitutes on the list!
When I am asked about substitutes for gelatin, the first thing that comes to mind is Agar. This gelling ingredient is derived from algae, particularly the red algae that are typically from the waters of Southeast Asia. It is widely used in the culinary world as a stabilizer for foams, emulsions and to thicken liquids.
Agar is such as a good substitute for gelatin in many recipes but you should take note of the differences of the two. While gelatin stabilizes food with a firm texture, it is “wiggly” to the touch and also it gives the final product a somewhat creamy consistency. Agar, on the other hand, is much stronger that gelatin. Agar can make your dishes firmer that’s why you need only a little amount of it. Looking at the ratios, 1 teaspoon of agar can be equal to 8 teaspoons of gelatin. So be sure to make your measurements right.
Agar is a very good substitute since it is 100% vegan, vegetarian diets and can also be used in religious diets. I personally use agar with I use a whipping siphon to make foams or emulsions. It performs well and creates much better sauces and foams. But even so, I still prefer gelatin over agar when making panna cotta, since it is a creamy dessert with a body that should “dance”. Using agar is okay but I sometimes got trouble with the proportions. But all in all, if you are looking for a great substitute for gelatin, this is the first gelatin substitute that you should consider.
Carrageenan is another stabilizer that is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. It is made from different kinds of seaweeds. Carrageenan is also called carrageen or Irish Moss. Carrageenan is a good substitute for making puddings, jellies, and foams.
Carrageenan is stabilized not as strong as agar and gelatin. It is quite soft and creamy and will melt in your mouth. Even so, I love using carrageenan in mousses, foams and as an emulsifier. I use the raw, dried seaweed type (moss-looking type) rather than the other forms. The only downside in using the dried type is the long pre-preparation which includes soaking the seaweed for about 10-12 hours and boiling it to get the stabilizing jelly substance.
Even with the meticulous process unlike agar and gelatin, I still love using carrageen sometimes. The creamy consistency in gives is perfect for mousses and for creams that need a bit of form but not stiff.
- Vegan Gel
Vegan gel is another substitute with stabilizing ability closest to that of a gelatin. It sets softly and creamy but still firm and can hold the shape beautifully. Vegan gel is made from vegetable gum so it is also vegetarian and vegan as the name implies.
It is easy to use and comes in powder form and just needs hot water for it to bloom. You can use it to all dishes that uses gelatin. It is widely available so it is easy to find.
Pectin is a carbohydrate found in the peels and the core of fruits. It is a natural hydrocolloid which can thicken and stabilize food. Pectin is another substitute for gelatin that you can use. It is natural and vegan. Pectin is commonly used in jams and jellies and also in yogurts.
For this substitute to perform well, it needs sugar or acid to start the gelling process. Pectin is a good substitute for making foams and jellies and other recipes with the same consistency. Unlike other substitutes that really make a firm form, pectin comes out quite soft.
- Kosher Gelatin
Another good substitute that you can use is kosher gelatin. This gelatin behaves almost like your regular gelatin and can be used in various recipes. It is commonly used in yogurts and other foods.
Kosher gelatin is sometimes made from the bones of fishes or sometimes, it is Agar based. Kosher is a type of religious diet with certain rules that they follow, and so kosher gelatin is based on that. However, kosher gelatin is not always vegan so be sure to look at the packet or better that you opt other substitutes of your vegan.
- Kudzu Powder
Kudzu us a starch derived from a root product. This is typically used as a thickener in soups, pies and other recipes that require a glossy, shiny finish. Pies and cobblers typically use starch to thicken the filling. Though tasteless and commonly flavorless, this is not very recommended to substitute gelatin for recipes like jellies.
Like kudzu, arrowroot is a starch from a tuber. It is flavorless and tasteless, cooks as a lower temperature and yields shiny and glossy finish if used in recipes. It is also a great ingredient in making pie fillings.
Gelatin is a very interesting ingredient that makes beautiful dishes even better. I hope that this article answered some of your gelatin questions and also gave you a great gelatin substitute that you use in your recipes. I also hope that our vegan and vegetarian friends found some useful information and a way to enjoy those jello recipes. If you got questions or suggestions for us, please send us a message in the comment section below. Also, do not forget to share this article and help us spread the word! How about you? What substitutes for gelatin do you use? Until next,