1. Measure the amount of gelatin you use precisely. Since you generally use only a small amount of gelatin, using too much or too little can disastrously affect your recipe’s outcome. Too much gelatin will make your finished dish rubbery, while too little can prevent it from setting up properly. If your recipe calls for a teaspoon or tablespoon measurement, carefully spoon the granules into the measuring spoon, overfilling the spoon slightly. Use the back of a knife to level off the measured amount.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin granules evenly over the surface of the cold liquid. This will prevent it from forming clumps that may not dissolve.
3. One 1/4-ounce envelope contains 2 1/4 teaspoons of granulated gelatin. If your recipe calls for less than this amount, measure the amount out using a measuring spoon. If your recipe calls for more than this amount, use the envelope plus a measured amount of gelatin from another envelope.
4. If you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the setting process. If you want your gelatin mixture to set up quickly, set the bowl containing the mixture into another bowl of ice water and stir until it has the consistency of cold raw egg whites. Now you can refrigerate the mixture and it will set evenly and quickly.
5. Don’t use pineapple in your gelatin recipes. Certain fruits and spices, such as pineapple, papaya, gingerroot, figs and kiwi, contain an enzyme that causes gelatin to break down and prevent it from setting. If you want to use them, they must be poached before adding them to your gelatin recipes. Canned pineapple is pre-cooked, so it does not pose a problem.
6. Gelatin takes up to twice as long to dissolve in cream or milk. Bear this in mind when making recipes that use milk or cream as the hot liquid the gelatin is stirred into.
7. Keep gelatin dishes refrigerated until ready to serve. This will prevent them from softening and losing their gelatinous texture.
8. Store gelatin desserts in the refrigerator covered. This will prevent the formation of a thick, rubbery skin on the dessert. It will also prevent it from picking up any unwanted “refrigerator odors.”
9. For easy unmolding of gelatin recipes, coat the mold with non-stick cooking spray before filling.
10. Do not bring gelatin mixtures to a full boil. This may cause the gelatin to lose its thickening properties.
Tish Boyle – Editor, Dessert Professional Magazine: Formerly the editor of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines, Tish is a graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris. During her varied food career she has worked as a caterer, pastry chef, and food stylist. She was also an associate editor at Good Housekeeping magazine and a freelance recipe developer for several food companies and magazines. Tish has also co-authored several renowned cookbooks. She lives and bakes in Brooklyn Heights, NY. Visit her website at www.tishboyle.com.