by Emily Neill
Plants can stand in for pretty much every meat or dairy-based product, and this goes for even the most niche of kitchen essentials. Here’s our rundown of vegan gelatin alternatives.
From wobbling jellies to your favourite gummy bear sweets, gelatin is a common ingredient in many foods. Typically made from leftover products from the meat industry, it acts as a gelling agent, helping to bind together other ingredients and provide a smooth texture (think terrine, mousse and lots of desserts).
Like most animal-based products, however, it has a number of viable alternatives from the plant world. Here’s our rundown of the best vegan alternatives to gelatin , and how to use them.
Agar agar is an extract from red algae – one of the plant world’s most nutritionally dense ingredients. Low in saturated fats and high in mineral content, it’s commonly used in South East Asian cuisine and is widely available in the UK.
Just like gelatin, it doesn’t have any flavour, scent, or colour – it’s simply a gelling agent. Where it does differ, however, is with its melting point. Agar agar has a higher melting point than gelatin, meaning that it can hold a shape even in warmer conditions (no collapsing jellies here!).
For those looking to move the shift away from gelatin, this option is easy to find in the UK. You use agar agar in exactly the same way you would as gelatin , using the same ratios to melt into boiling water and then leaving to set.
The oceans hold a variety of plant-based goodness, and carrageenan is one of these great plant-based ingredients. It’s a gelatin-like substance extracted from red seaweed (or Irish moss). During the Middle Ages it was used along the southern coast of Ireland to make a cold and flu remedy, and later on it became the foundation of a famous Irish dessert, Carrageenan Moss Blancmange (a light, cream-based jelly).
These days it’s more likely to be found in shop-bought vegan cheese, holding together the ingredients and helping to give a smooth consistency. If you want to experiment with carrageenan yourself, have a look or inquire about it in speciality food stores and health shops.
The plant-based alternative most closely resembling gelatin is vegan jel. Rather than just being a single extract from a plant, it’s a combination of a few, creating a binding agent that’s very close to gelatin . We won’t go into the whole list (it contains tapioca dextrin, calcium phosphate and many others), but it’s important to know that the main player is vegetable gum which is often made from the ‘woody’ part of plants and seed coatings.
The best part about vegan jel is that it acts the same as a gelatin , with the same low melting point. This means that it dissolves while you enjoy it as part of a jelly or dessert, letting all the flavours burst through.
Plants can provide us with everything we need to for a healthy, balanced diet and can cater to the most ambitious home cooks. Among the weird and wonderful ingredients offered by the plant world, are a number of gelatin alternatives. Whether you go for a sprinkling of agar agar, a spoonful of carrageenan powder, or a squeeze of vegan jel, there are plenty of plant-based options to put the wobble back into your jelly.
Interested in trying out what else plants can offer you? allplants makes tasty plant-based ready meals and delivers them straight to your door. Check out what delicious dishes are currently on our menu.