Using Powdered Gelatin
Powdered gelatin requires some rehydration before it can be used. Refusal to do this will leave you with little dried granules sprinkled throughout your dish in chunks.
The rehydration should be done with cold water or perhaps juice. It is best to sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid and set it aside for five to 10 minutes while it gets absorbed. In that time, it will swell up and look similar to applesauce.
After hydrating the gelatin, melt it by stirring it into a hot liquid. The melting can be done in a double boiler and a stainless steel bowl placed over an open flame. Pros should only attempt the second method as it can lead to scorching of the fingers. After the granules are completely dissolved, they are ready for use.
Using Sheet Gelatin
This is made complicated by the variety of sheet gelatin there are. Each has different gelling abilities, but many pros claim to use the silver sheet gelatin the most.
You put the gelatin sheets in a bowl filled with cold water to use it. After they have been submerged for about five minutes, the rehydration is complete. The gelatin dissolves rapidly when stirred into a warm liquid or heated.
Working with Gelatin in Recipes
When working with gelatin, time is a very important factor that must never be overlooked. Immediately you fold a cold element like whipped cream into a base at room temperature, the gelatin will start setting. Everything you need must have been prepared before you start mixing up the ingredients of your dessert.
If something happens, you can re-melt the gelatin for later use regardless of what base it’s in. All you have to do is refrigerate it if it’s in a custard or fruit base until you are ready to finish what you’re making. Heat the base mildly until it becomes fluid, then let it cool to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. When you fold in the cold element, you only have a short window to use or lose it.
Desserts stabilized with Gelatins must be refrigerated for about 24 hours or overnight before dishing it.
How Much to Use
Experts claim that 1 envelope of powdered gelatin has the same gelling strength as 5 sheets (about 3 by 8.5 inches) of leaf gelatin. Other pastry chefs like David Lebovitz say there is a range: « Three-and-a-half sheets seem to work best for me. I use sheets that are 3 by 5 inches. »
If you are making something you plan to slice, add an extra half or whole sheet. If it is something you’re spooning out of a dish, opt for a texture on the softer side.