Ideal for emulsifying, film forming, water binding and foam stabilization, gelatin’s unique functional abilities offer solutions for many foods.

As most hydrocolloids are not thermo-reversible, and do not have a melting point near body temperature, gelatin is the only hydrocolloid that can provide this one-of-a-kind, “melt-in-your-mouth” sensation. Due to this property, gelatin is often used in low- and no-fat recipes as a texturizer to give the creamy mouthfeel of full-fat versions of the same formulation. The quality is exemplified in low- or no-fat dairy products, especially yogurt, ice cream, dairy drinks or shakes, and whipped desserts.

Gelatin is available in diverse qualities with varying gel strengths, viscosities, isoelectric points and particle sizes—all properties that should be considered in determining the final texture and desired functionality of the end product.

Other factors influencing gelatin’s performance in a finished product are: pH, equipment constraints, gelatin usage and processing temperatures. Gelatin type—namely the “bloom,” or gel strength—is directly related to molecular weight and is determined by the degree of enzymatic hydrolysis involved. If hydrolysis is interrupted, a typical gelatin is produced.

When hydrolysis is carried to completion, the result is “gelatin hydrolysate” (also referred to as “collagen hydrolysate” or collagen peptides). Collagen peptides are sometimes called zero-bloom gelatins, meaning the product cannot form a gel. Unlike other proteins, collagen peptides are truly cold-water soluble, clear in solution and have a neutral sensory profile. They are easily applied in beverages, powder blends, nutrition and cereal bars and confectionery and dairy applications.

When formulating a beauty-from-within or joint-health product—or simply boosting protein content—collagen peptides should be at the top of the list due to their ease in formulation.

Protein sets gelatin apart from carbohydrate-based hydrocolloids. Produced from the hides and bones of cattle and pigs, or from fish skin, gelatin is an easily digestible protein comprised of seven of eight essential amino acids.

It contains high percentages of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. The abundance of these amino acids makes it the ideal protein for joint and skin health applications. Extensive clinical research on specific bioactive collagen peptides has shown stimulation of new, type II collagen and proteoglycans in the extracellular matrix of the joint cartilage.

As a result, gelatin helps regenerate joint tissue and reduce pain. Moreover, newer clinical research on specific bioactive collagen peptides has demonstrated noticeable improvement in skin moisture retention and wrinkle reduction.

One important development in the gelatin industry is the availability of beef-hide gelatin and collagen peptides with OU Kosher certification. This allows formulators to consider the diverse functionality of gelatin and collagen peptides and still meet growing consumer demands for kosher products.

“Non-kosher gelatin and kosher gelatin have exactly the same functional properties,” notes Zach Rubin, president and CEO of Geliko LLC, the global leader of OU-certified kosher gelatin and gelatin hydrolysate. “They have a neutral taste and almost no aroma, so they are ideal for use in food applications, altering neither taste nor smell.”


Mindi McKibbin is a Supervisor in Edible Technical Services for GELITA USA. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics from Buena Vista University, Iowa. She can be contacted at 712-943-0317 or