Does the thought of dealing with gelatine put you off making a mousse? Do you find it just goes lumpy or doesnt set? Just what is gelatine, this magical substance that sets foods to a satisfying wobble?
It’s simply a water-soluble protein prepared from collagen (skin, bones and tendons of animals). So not suitable for vegetarians. (There is a very good vege-gel available for vegetarians and also agar agar powder which you use in a different way to standard gelatine, but with the same effect).
You can buy two different types of gelatine. The most commonly found is granular and sold in sachets. There is also leaf gelatine which is a crisp, colourless sheet. Luckily, this is now far easier to find and can be bought in most supermarkets. By choice, I’d always go for this one. Why? It is so much easier to use.
Simply cut up the sheets with scissors, soak in a little of the liquid you’ll be using (or water) and then heat gently to melt.
With granules (also called powder), sprinkle them onto the liquid you’ll be using, let it soak a little. You’ll see the granules expand as they absorb the water. You then need to head gently to melt. (You can also use a microwave on the defrost setting for this). The smell of the granules, to me is off putting and you have to be much more careful that it has melted properly! One pack of leaf gelatine sets 2 pints of liquid. One sachet of gelatine powder sets 1 pint.
Once you’ve got to grips with gelatine, I promise you, you will become obsessed. Do try Bompass and Parr’s wonderful lemon jelly recipe.
I love anything lemony. I’ll serve this in Summer for an added zing to a meal, or in Winter so simply brighten up the day. This recipe was published in one of Brighthouse’s Food Journals – a lovely selections of mains and desserts from UK bloggers.
- 4 large eggs
- 170 grams caster sugar
- 3 large lemons
- 1 packet of gelatin (12 gr sachet) or 5 leaves of leaf gelatin
- 150 ml water
- Separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks in one basin and the whites in another. If you are using a mixer to beat the egg whites, place them in the mixer bowl.
- Using a fine grater or microplane, take the zest off two lemons. Cut and extract the juice of all the lemons.
- Add the sugar and zest to the egg yolks and beat together. You'll notice the colour lightens and the mixture thickens. Add the lemon juice and set aside.
- Cut up the leaf gelatine into approx 3 cm pieces. Place the water in a small pyrex bowl with the gelatin and let it soak for 10 minutes. Then place the bowl into a saucepan of gently simmering water and let it melt (about 5 minutes)
- In a small bowl, measure out the water and sprinkle with the granules of gelatin. The granules will expand. Either place the bowl in a microwave on defrost (or low power) for 1-2 minutes until the granules have dissolved. Or place the water and gelatin mixture into a saucepan and heat gently until the granules dissolve. Do not boil. Stir well to blend.
- Add the gelatin mixture to the egg and lemon mixture. Mix well.
- This mixture will gradually thicken. Mine took about 15 minutes. Set a timer so you don't forget it!
- Only when the mixture is starting to thicken, stiffly beat the egg whites. Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, a hand held mixer or beat by hand with a whisk.
- Fold one tablespoon of the egg whites into the lemon mixture and mix well. This is to loosen up the mixture.
- Add the remaining egg white, one tablespoon at a time and fold in gently. You want to get as much air in as possible.
- Pour into a large bowl or into individual bowls and allow to set in the fridge.