Properties of Gelatin
Gelatin is a processed from of collagen, one of the most common proteins in the nature.
In most animals, collagen acts as a structural protein by forming fibers and support structures.
1) Manufacturers of gelatin grind up sources of collagen (bone, skin, etc.), expose it to extreme acidic conditions, and heat it to break up the protein molecules.
2) Once dried, the powder left is made up of random pieces of collagen, which we know of as gelatin.
Gelatin as the primary component of Jell-O
Gelatin acts as a gelling agent.
1) To make Jell-O, one first has to mix the powder with boiling water. Why?
Answer: The purpose of this step is to separate all the different pieces of collagen. The energy of the water is transferred to the molecules, making them vibrate enough to free up from each other. Thorough mixing of the Jell-O with the water allows for complete dissolving of the powder and a good separation of the protein pieces.
2) Once this happens, the Jell-O directions call upon us to cool the mixture for a period of time. Why?
Answer: Cooling the mixture allows the protein molecules to relax and start interacting with each other. They become tangled with each other, leaving large pockets of space behind, creating a network without an organized structure. Over time, water flows into and becomes trapped in these pockets as the protein chains become more tangled with each other, eventually creating a gel.
For more information, visit What exactly is Jell-O made from?
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