Stock your kitchen with a variety of ingredients and you'll be able to produce imaginative and enjoyable treats for the whole family. Clear gelatin, also called unflavored gelatin, contains animal proteins processed into a thickening agent without taste and odors. The thickening ability of gelatin makes it an ideal ingredient in many different kid-friendly recipes, from snacks and desserts to dips and salads.
Gelatin is available in different forms, including powdered and sheets. Find powdered unflavored gelatin in the baking aisle near the sweetened gelatin desserts. Sheet gelatin may be more difficult to find; it is often available in specialty markets. Look for kosher gelatin if you wish to avoid pork proteins and vegetable gelatin if you wish to avoid animal proteins in gelatin.
The standard ratio for thickening with gelatin is one envelope (or 1 tbsp.) of gelatin for every 2 cups of liquid. If you want a thicker result, for preparing a mousse that will hold its shape after unmolding use about twice as much gelatin for the same amount of liquid. If you want a softer set, decrease the amount of gelatin by about half. Interchange powdered and sheet gelatin by using two sheets of gelatin for every 1 tsp. of powdered gelatin.
To activate gelatin, you must soften it in liquid. This process is called "blooming." If you do not bloom gelatin properly, it will not dissolve and your recipe may have clumps of undissolved gelatin without the desired thickening. Measure out the correct ratio of liquid and gelatin for the thickening you want and then sprinkle powdered gelatin or place sheet gelatin onto the liquid to soften it. Let powdered gelatin sit for about five minutes and sheet gelatin sit for about 15 minutes and then heat the liquid slightly.
Use gelatin in desserts such as homemade ice cream, gelato, mousse, custards, chiffon pies and parfaits. When whipping whipped cream for a dessert, dissolve small amount of gelatin in the cream before whipping to stabilize the whipped cream. Mix gelatin with fruit juice and then pour it into a pan. After chilling, cut it into finger-size pieces for snacking. Prepare savory dips by blooming gelatin in a small amount of water and adding it to a packet of dip mix and concentrated cream soup, mayonnaise and vegetables or meat. Make salads by adding the gelatin to a variety of different fruit juices. After blooming the gelatin, add ingredients such as apples, celery, berries, walnuts, pecans, shredded carrots or cucumber chunks. Let the mixture chill until it sets.
Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.