Gelatine is indispensable for the food industry and for nutrition
Gelatine is a high-quality ingredient and has many positive properties as a foodstuff. Thanks to its gelling abilities, gelatine is indispensable in modern cuisine. For example, foam formation, stabilisation and texturising are essential properties in the creation of tasty desserts. Gelatine is also an important source of protein. It can effectively replace carbohydrates and fat in many foods and is thus better suited to meet nutritional needs.
The invention of tinned food by Nicolas Appert and the invention of artificial refrigeration are not the only milestones of 19th century European culinary art. The industrial production of gelatine also paved the way for new possibilities in cooking, and that to an extent previously not thought possible. However, this natural foodstuff is in fact several centuries old. Sources show that humans have been using and appreciating gelatine for millennia.
Gelatine-like mixtures were already being produced in Egypt during Pharaonic times. Written records have shown that fish and fruit specialities prepared with gelatine were considered absolute delicacies and served at feasts. Gelatine’s great triumph, however, really only began in the 19th century.
Around this time the first small businesses sprang up that were able to produce gelatine on a larger scale. A milestone that had a great impact on the culinary arts in Europe.
And so, today gelatine has many diverse applications in modern food production. Gelatine is always used when a natural ingredient with multifunctional properties is needed to keep products in a certain form.
Aside from its being completely natural, one advantage it offers is its unique ability to react to heat. Products that are made with gelatine melt at body temperature and set again as they cool.
This is why products that contain gelatine melt in the mouth, guaranteeing an ideal discharge of their flavour. Gelatine’s pleasing properties make it indispensable for the food sector.
It contains no cholesterol, sugar or fat, is easy to digest and is not known to elicit allergies.
Gelatine also offers many benefits for the preparation of products that are low in fat, sugar and calories. It makes it easy to develop diet products that still offer the same amount of flavour as their full-fat counterparts. For example, gelatine is added to curd cheese to improve texture, stabilise emulsions, reduce calories and build up foam (less weight at the same volume). In meat products such as hot dogs, tinned meat or sausages, gelatine adds consistency, enhances aroma, improves sensory properties and reduces the fat content.
Edible gelatine is indispensable for the production of many delicacies, including jelly babies, wine gums, chewy candies, fruit drops, marshmallows, liquorice and chocolate marshmallows. Gelatine ensures elasticity, the proper chew effect and a longer shelf life. It forms and stabilises foam for light and airy sweets, thus facilitating the transport and storage of products.
A fancy cake without gelatine? Practically unthinkable. Fancy cakes are easier to slice because gelatine stabilises buttercream or cream fillings. Furthermore, gelatine also extends their shelf life. Powdered, leaf or instant gelatine makes it easy to freeze and thaw industrially manufactured fancy cakes.
Gelatine plays an extremely important role in the preparation and development of new varieties of milk products and desserts. The right amount and the right type of gelatine results in light and creamy yogurts or variations of other common milk products such as quark, kefir or ice cream. Be they firm or fluffy and light: gelatine achieves the desired consistency for cream and mousse desserts and makes sure they melt deliciously in the mouth. Gelatine also makes the refreshing jelly dessert transparent and “wiggly”.
Gelatine ensures that pâtés and jellied meats look appetising. A coating of gelatine keeps many salami or spicy Pfefferwurst sausage variations (a sausage made from beef and peppers) from drying out. In the fish processing industry, gelatine is mainly used for jelly products, whereby it protects the products from light and oxygen and enhances their appearance. Special types of gelatine are becoming increasingly important because they increase the protein concentration in pâtés, ready-made meals and other delicacies.
Gelatine as an important source of protein
Today, through our eating habits, we take in excessive amounts of fat and carbohydrates and far too little protein. Gelatine can effectively replace carbohydrates and fat in many foods and is thus better suited to meeting nutritional needs. Furthermore, protein contributes to a better energy homeostasis than carbohydrates and fat, so that replacing them with gelatine leads to a lower intake of energy.
Low-fat and reduced-calorie products
Gelatine can play an important role in the preparation of low-fat or reduced-fat meals. Due to its ability to form an oil-in-water emulsion, it can be used to partially replace the high fat content in many products. Without gelatine, it would have been impossible to develop many of the low-fat products such as half-fat margarine, reduced-fat cheeses or yogurt variations that are found as light products on store shelves today. Gelatine adds volume to these products. It binds water in the final product, thereby increasing the volume without adding further calories. Despite the significant reduction in fat, gelatine’s properties ensure that these kinds of products still offer the same type of flavour that fat would have added and melt deliciously in the mouth.
Many reduced-calorie foods are not as enjoyable as comparable products with the “normal” number of calories, which often leads to lower acceptance on the part of consumers. Gelatine is ideal for the development of high-quality, reduced-calorie products such as low-fat ice cream, milk products, cakes and pastries.
Expectations are high when it comes to the so-called light products. Despite the reduction in fat, the creamy structure of such products as low-fat ice cream or the consistency and typical development of flavour of reduced-fat margarine are to be retained. In order to achieve this, manufacturers have come to rely on the emulsion-building and water-binding properties of gelatine.
Water can replace fat in the production of reduced-fat products. Water does not contain any calories but must be structured and stabilised within the microstructure of the product. This is where gelatine comes in, because it can bind and stabilise large amounts of water. Special types of gelatine and techniques are used to structure water into small, fat-like drops. This makes it possible to form so-called water-in-water emulsions in products with a high water fraction and manufacture products with a creamy texture. The result is that, although the product contains less fat and fewer calories, it continues to melt deliciously in the mouth. Moreover, gelatine ensures that these products have the same characteristically soft and creamy consistency as full-fat products. Thus, the only difference between them and full-fat products is the fat content.
Scientific findings have shown that people who follow a diet with a low glycaemic index (GI) have a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes or coronary heart disease. The GI level of products is dependent upon the proportion of carbohydrates, especially sugar. This is why the current trend is moving towards reducing or leaving out sugar, even in sweets.
Sugar as a “source of flavour” plays an important role in the sweetness of many products. Leaving the sugar out makes it necessary to find a replacement not only in terms of quantity, but also with regard to its function. Otherwise, a lack of sugar will lead to a loss of flavour and consistency. A blend of collagen peptide and sweeteners can meet these requirements without having any negative impact on digestion. The recommended daily intake of most of the other common bulk sweeteners available today is restricted because they can have a laxative effect. Examples of products that consumers are very familiar with are reduced-sugar fruit gums and chewy candies that are rich in protein.
Sugar is also used as a kind of natural “adhesive”, for example for cereal bars, where it binds individual ingredients such as cornflakes and raisins and gives the bars their shape. Gelatine can also be used as a binding agent in this case, which effectively cuts calories and reduces sweetness – without any loss of quality.
All in all, thanks to its versatile properties, gelatine is indispensable for the production of optimised foods that meet the special requirements of many consumers, i.e. low in fat, sugar and calories, but without any need for compromise in terms of flavour.
Today, consumers are paying ever closer attention to the ingredients used in the products they consume, which means that natural and healthy ingredients are playing an increasingly important role in the decisions they make to purchase certain foods. Many consumers refuse to use artificial or genetically modified ingredients, or ingredients that have an E number. As a natural foodstuff, gelatine is the ideal alternative when it comes to finding a replacement for a wide variety of ingredients.
It's a natural and healthy food
Gelatine is not chemically modified and has no (possible harmful) by-products of chemical modification. It's an ingredient on its own that doesn't contain any additives or artificial flavoring.
This means it doesn't contain and is not made of any genetically modified organisms.
It doesn't require an E-number
Gelatine is not a food additive and therefore doesn't require an E-number.
It has the GRAS status
GRAS stands for "Generally Recognized As Safe", which makes gelatine a completely safe product.
Gelatine doesn't cause any known allergies.
It's safe and has a long tradition
It has been consumed for more than 2000 years and is known for generations. This is why people often prefer gelatine to relatively recent developed hydrocolloids.