Gelatine is multi-talented

Is it not impressive that a foodstuff with such a long tradition as gelatine plays an important role in the modern food industry? We live in a time when the consumer is confronted with food that has been genetically modified and contains a large number of additives and E numbers. None of this applies to gelatine, the pure collagen protein. It offers many features unmatched today.

The following infographic gives an overview.

  • Melts at body temperature with rapid and intense release of flavour

    Other hydrocolloids do not have this property.

  • Unique texture, elasticity and brilliance
    • Gelatine inhibits syneresis and is able to form and stabilize emulsions
    • Starches lack the unique texture, elasticity, brilliance and transparent gel formation of gelatine. Instead, they have a short, sticky texture.
    • Agar-agar has low gel elasticity. It has a tendency for syneresis and no emulsifying properties.
    • Alginates have a short and brittle texture. Syneresis may occur during storage.
    • Pure kappa gels are not quite suitable for food applications because of their very firm and brittle texture. They are also prone to syneresis.
    • Guam arabic and Xantan gum do not form gels. However, guam arabic's gelling effect appears at very high concentrations and in conjunction with high solids content.
    • The strong synergetic reactions between locust gum and other hydrocolloids make them suitable for gel formation, stabilization and emulsification. Locust bean gum on its own, though, shows no film or gel formation.
    • Pectines are not suitable as emulsifiers
  • Transparency
    • Gelatine shows a high transparency.
    • The gel of unrefined carrageenan is turbid.
    • While starch and agar-agar have low transparency, Xantan gum, guam arabic and locust bean gum taken by themselves are not transparent at all.
  • Easy to process
    • Gelatine is available in different gel strengths and particle sizes. Therefore, the particle size can be adapted to production needs to achieve easy solubility. It is not dependant on normal pH range, ion strength and the absence or presence of ions or the level of dry substances. 
    • Starch has to be modified to be used in a wide range of applications and to obtain some of the properties of gelatine. For starches a combination of products and /or additives have to be used.
    • The application of alginates is restricted to a low pH.
    • Some types of carrageenan require the presence of ions for gel formation.
    • The viscosity of a solution of guam arabic is directly dependent on the molecular weight of the polymer chains, which, however, do not occur uniformly in the final product. In addition, the viscosity is influenced by pH, salt content, and temperature.
    • Xantan gum is soluble in cold water and forms a highly viscous solution. These solutions are relatively insensitive to changes in pH and maintain their viscosities over a wide temperature range.
  • Clean label
    • Gelatine is a natural foodstuff and therefore doesn't require an E-number. It is fully digestible, GMO-free and non-allergenic.
    • Modified starches should only be ingested in limited quantities.
    • Locust bean gum may also lead to difficulties with digestion.
  • Protein enrichment
    • A diet rich in protein is especially recommended for those who would like to stay trim: the body can temporarily make do without fats and carbohydrates, but not without protein.  In order to maintain this level, it is necessary to provide a continuous supply since the human body cannot store protein or produce it in sufficient quantities. Proteins are therefore added to many dietary foods, often in the form of hydrolysed collagen. This makes it possible to reduce the sugar or fat content – without any loss of enjoyment.
    • Getting enough protein is also very important for athletes. Maintaining a proper diet can have a positive effect on muscles, bones, ligaments and joints and optimise regeneration phases. Since it is not always easy to ensure optimal nutrition on a day-to-day basis, premium dietary supplements that have been fortified with hydrolysed collagen, such as sports bars or protein shakes, have been developed.

Gelling, thickening and stabilizing

Gelatine belongs to the large group of hydrocolloids. These are substances that are made of vegetable or animal proteins or complex sugars. They have the capacity to swell or bind water. Hydrocolloids are used to thicken, gel and stabilize food. No other hydrocolloid provides all of the properties, gelatine combines all in one ingredient.

Gelatine is a thermo-reversible hydrocolloid
Distinction is made between two different gelling types of hydrocolloids. Thermo-reversible gels are formed by cooling a warm solution. The gel can be melted again at any time. The other group comprises hydrocolloids soluble in cold or hot water and need the addition of salts or acids to form a gel. However, these gels cannot be melted again.

Gelatine is unique
It melts at body temperature and this property is unique among the hydrocolloids. Foods using gelatine therefore melts in the mouth and generate that unique “great mouth feel” and an intensive flavour release. That “great mouth feel“ is decisive for many consumers in their decisions about what to buy.

Moreover, gelatine is the most versatile of the hydrocolloids in the modern food industry. Gelatine is suitable for gelling, thickening, binding water, foaming and stabilizing and it is highly elastic.

Special types

Leaf gelatine
A special form of gelatine is leaf gelatine. This specific form is used for household, catering, cooking, catering, bakeries, confectioners, butchers and other non-industrial applications. Cut into rectangles with the typical net-shaped pattern resulting from the manufacturing process and elastic in its movements, at first glance it looks more like a work of art. The big advantage for the use of leaf gelatine is it can be easily portioned according to the recipes and is easy to handle during the cooking process.

Instant gelatine
Cold soluble (instant) gelatines were specially developed to prevent temperature-sensitive final products from heating for the gelatine dissolution. It is often used to stabilize foodstuffs such as gateaux, desserts and other sweet and cold dishes.

Further Reading

Health & Nutrition benefits of gelatine

Applications of gelatine




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