Things You'll Need
Unflavored gelatin (powdered or sheet)
Cold tap water
Knowing how to make a gelatin solution before you hit the middle of a complicated recipe can mean the difference between success and time-consuming aggravation. This is definitely not a technique one wishes to learn while eggs are beating and whipped cream waits! Whether you are making salmon mousse, tomato aspic or chocolate Bavarian, the techniques of softening and dissolving gelatin are the same. Follow the steps below to add this basic cooking skill to your repertoire.
Making and Using a Gelatin Solution
Check your recipe to determine how your gelatin solution will be used. To soften and dissolve one packet or sheet of unflavored gelatin requires 1 1/4 cups of water. Read your recipe to be certain that the cup of water is allowed in addition to other liquid ingredients. Aspic for glazing cold fish might require substituting boiling fish broth for the plain water. If you add both water and broth, you'll have a lake for your fish, not a glaze!
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Soften your gelatin first. This means putting it into 1/4 cup of cold water to sit for about 15 minutes. This loosens up the protein molecules in the gelatin so that they will dissolve. Softened gelatin looks cloudy and goopy—that's just right.
Dissolve the gelatin by adding 1 cup of boiling water, or the liquid specified by your recipe, to the softened gelatin in a bowl. Stir thoroughly for at least one full minute. If your liquid is clear, it will still look clear. If it's cloudy, the full minute of stirring ensures the gelatin is dissolved. Go ahead with the rest of your recipe.
You've been interrupted in the middle of your recipe—relax. The only thing your gelatin solution will do is ... jell! Warm it up over low heat to redissolve, cool it down enough to handle easily, and go right back to where you left off.
Stick to that full minute of stirring. If you rush, you'll get paid back with lumps and wet spots in your final recipe.
If your gelatin solution involves pre-sweetened, flavored gelatin, just follow the package directions—they work great.