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gelatine—a French invention

Photo of gelatin plates for cooking

Gelatin was discovered in 1682 by Frenchman Denis Papin, who was conducting research on how to feed the poor of France. One project was trying to find a substitute for meat, and during the course of his researches he discovered a method of removing the glutinous material in animal bones and skins by boiling.

Edible gelatin (mostly made of pork) is sold in the form of sheets along with cake ingredients in French supermarkets; the best is 200 bloom or gélatine or (’golden gelatine’) You can also find it as granules or powder. It’s used in a whole range of desserts from marshmallows (guimauve), sweet flavoured gelatine desserts, cakes, aspic and so on.

Agar agar, made from Japanese algae, is the vegan version of gélatine, but it’s more complicated to use as it must be boiled first and doesn’t freeze well.


Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Danielle dk