Where Does Gelatin Come from?
Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen, a natural protein present in the tendons, ligaments, and tissues of mammals. It is produced by boiling the connective tissues, bones and skins of animals, usually cows and pigs.
The first use of gelatin in foods is documented in the 15th century in medieval Britain, where cattle hooves were boiled for extended periods of time to produce a gel. This process was laborious and time-consuming, confined mainly to wealthier households.
When you eat pudding, you are eating a protein food that comes from the bones of animals. To make gelatin, the bones are cleaned, crushed, and soaked in a strong acid. What’s left is a spongy material called ossein (AHS-ee-in). The ossein is then cooked in order to release the gelatin.
To make delicious desserts, the gelatin is sweetened and flavored with lemon, raspberry, and other flavors. The mixture is then dried and ground into a powder. Gelatin forms a stiff jelly when dissolved in hot water and allowed to cool.
Charles and Rose Knox of New York manufactured and marketed gelatin powder, diversifying the appeal and applications of gelatin.
Gelatin’s ability to form strong, transparent gels and flexible films that are easily digested, soluble in hot water, and capable of forming a positive binding action have made it a valuable commodity in food processing, pharmaceuticals, photography, and paper production.
The first recorded English patent for gelatin production was granted in 1754. By the late 17th century, French inventor Denis Papin had discovered another method of its extraction via boiling of bones.
In 1812, the chemist Jean-Pierre-Joseph d’Arcet(fr) further experimented with the use of hydrochloric acid to extract it from bones, and later with steam extraction, which was much more efficient.
The French government viewed it as a potential source of cheap, accessible protein for the poor, particularly in Paris.
Food applications in France and the United States during 19th century appear to have established the versatility of gelatin, including the origin of its popularity in the US as Jell-O. From the mid 1800s,