To achieve the best results, mix the dry gelatin powder with a little bit of liquid and let it soak for a few minutes before use. Follow your recipe for exact proportions.
To prevent gelatin from clumping up, always pour gelatin into water and never pour water into large amounts of gelatin. Stir the liquid vigorously with a fork or whisk while you sift the gelatin powder in.
Always use cold liquids. Never pour dry gelatin powder into hot liquids directly.
Letting the gelatin soak in liquid is often referred to in recipes as letting the gelatin “bloom”.
Heating and re-heating gelatin
When preparing gelatin, never let it reach its boiling point. If you bring gelatin to a full boil, it may lose it's thickening properties and never set.
Once gelatin has set it can be melted again and used multiple times. Gelatin has a fairly low melting point and will become liquid if left in a warm environment. Small amounts of gelatin can be melted in a container placed in warm tap water. Larger amounts can be re-heated over a pot of boiling water.
Remember to keep the bottom of your container from touching the boiling water.
Preparing or heating gelatin in a microwave oven
Lately there has been a lot of talk about the harmful effects of the microwave technology on the amino acids found in gelatin. Many reports including the ones published by the Weston A. Price foundation are suggesting that the microwave treated gelatin changes its internal structure and becomes toxic to the liver, kidneys and the nervous system.
We invite you to do your own research and decide for yourself whether you want to use a microwave oven to prepare gelatin.
Taking gelatin out of containers
Once it has set, gelatin can be easily taken out of the container by placing it in warm water for a short period of time.
Start by making a small incision alongside the edge of gelatin to release the gelatin edge from the container. Use a toothpick or a small knife to make the incision.
Place the container into warm tap water and gelatin will soon start to melt and detach itself from the container. Turn it upside down onto a flat surface and gently remove the container.
The length of time to keep the container in the water will depend on the thickness of the container and the temperature of both gelatin and water.
For e.g. a thin PET/blister container such as the dome lid on the picture might take around 15 seconds if it has been just taken out of the fridge or 7-8 seconds if it has been kept at room temperature.
A thick glass bowl might take up to 4 minutes to warm up enough to release the gelatin using hot tap water.
If you want to preserve the shape of the container imprinted on the gelatin, reduce the time you keep it in the water. If you want to have smooth edges, leave the gelatin in the water for a little bit longer.
The following pictures show the difference between a strong container imprint and a subtle one.
If gelatin does not come out of the container easily, you may want to give it a gentle pull close to the edge and let a bit of air enter between gelatin and the container wall. Be careful not to tear the gelatin this way.
After a few tries you will learn the times and temperatures that work best for your containers and you'll be popping your funky creations out with no trouble at all!
Adjusting and correcting set gelatin shapes
Once the gelatin dessert has been taken out of the container, you may wish to smoothen out little abrasions on it or center the desert better on the serving platter. The best way to accomplish this is to use water. Make the gelatin surface wet before you take it out of the container and you should be able to slide it on the surface it has been placed on.
If the gelatin is dry, it will stick to most surfaces and you will not be able to slide it into place regardless of how smooth the surface is.
If you wish to repair small tears and scratches that have occurred while the gelatin was being taken out of the container, use warm water to smoothen it out. Keep a spoon in warm water for a few seconds and use it to polish the gelatin surface while it is still wet.
Ahhh yes, the sticky mess this fun activity can leave behind... Not to worry, all you need is warm water and some paper towels or kitchen cloths.
Gelatin dissolves easily in warm water and you should have no problems washing it down from your trays, tools, floors and kitchen counters.
Clear gelatin is hard to see, especially when wet. A surface may look clean, but it will become sticky again when it dries. Make sure you look everywhere and use lots of water.
To clean tools and needles, place them into warm water for a minute and then rinse them letting the water run through them.
If you still can't unplug a needle, place it back on the syringe and apply pressure to push the gelatin out.
Cutting sharp shapes in gelatin
To create large sharp-edged shapes in gelatin, you can use a cookie cutter and a thread.
Push the cookie cutter to the desired depth into gelatin, drip a few drops of water around it and allow the water to seep into the cut. Remove the cookie cutter and adjust the thread alongside the cut. Place one end of the thread over another, so that they point in opposite directions.
Place the cookie cutter back into the cut shape and carefully pull one or both thread ends to cut the bottom of the shape out.
To make the bottom of the cut shape smooth and even, pour a little bit of warm melted gelatin into the hole.
How to create a flower center hole
When drawing flowers in gelatin, excess color will get pushed out of petals and accumulate on the surface. This can slow down your work as the excess color will block your view and will require you to clean the gelatin surface more often. You can avoid this by creating a small hole in the center of the flower. Excess color will remain in the hole and allow you to draw more petals before you need to clean the excess off.
There are multiple ways to create the center hole
1. You can use an apple corer or a similar sharp, cylindrical tool. Push the apple corer into gelatin, tilt it gently to one side and then apply circular motion to cut the bottom part of the hole.
2.You can use a sharp measuring spoon or a melon baller. Keep the tool in hot water for best results. Place the tool on the gelatin surface and mark a circle you would like to cut out, then, dig into gelatin alongside a marked line. You might have to warm up the tool again, half-way through, in order to make a more precise cut.
3.You can use a round metal object to melt a center hole. This method gives the best results. Place the metal object into boiling hot water for a few minutes. Turn the gelatin upside down over the kitchen sink or a large bowl. Take the tool out of water and push it gently against the surface of gelatin until a desired hole depth is achieved.
Be careful not to burn yourself by touching the hot parts of the tool or to let the hot melted gelatin drip onto your fingers.
In addition to creating the flower center hole by melting gelatin, you can create many other shapes using this melting method. Different tools will allow you to create different shapes in gelatin. For example, bigger circular shapes are convenient for creating flower centers, animal heads, candles or an insect torso. Smaller shapes are good for creating ears, limbs, branches or letters.
A needle hub is perfect for creating eyes. Use other objects you have handy to create new and exciting shapes in your creations.
Here is how to do it:
Bring a little bit of water to boil in a small sauce pan. Leave the melting tool in boiling water until it warms up. Time required will depend on the material and thickness of your tool.
Turn the gelatin container upside down over your kitchen sink or another container that the melted gelatin can drip into.
If you are using small containers, you might be able to hold them in your hand. For bigger containers, make sure you have them placed securely somewhere where you will have access to the bottom of the container but not risk hurting yourself by trying to juggle hot tools and heavy containers.
One way to accomplish this is to place a grill over your kitchen sink and then place the container upside down on top of it. You can use a grill from your oven or fridge for this purpose.
Always make sure that you are using tools that are free of any toxins and that you have a safe way to handle to tools when they are hot. If a tool doesn't have handles or is too small to hold, use pliers to keep them at the safe distance. Make sure the melted gelatin doesn't drip over your fingers while you are working as it can get quite hot too.