Gelatine (or gelatin) was discovered in 1682 by Frenchman Denis Papin, who was conducting research on how to feed the poor of France. During the course of his research into finding a substitute for meat, he discovered a method of removing the glutinous material (collagen) in animal bones and skins by boiling.
Edible gelatin (mostly made of pork) is sold in the form of sheets, in the cake ingredient sections in French supermarkets; the best is 200 bloom or gélatine or (’golden gelatine’). You can also find gelatin granules or powder, required for a whole range of desserts, from marshmallows (guimauve), sweet gelatine desserts, cakes, to aspic and so on.
Agar agar, made from Japanese algae, is the vegan version of gélatine. It’s more complicated to use because it must be boiled first and doesn’t freeze well.
Image by Danielle dk