Jelly in secret: Hidden gelatin

Fact #1:
Gelatin is a gelling agent.

Fact #2:
Gelatin is made from ๐Ÿ–pork. Or some other kind of animal remains.

Vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, Muslims, Jews and many more know about fact #2.

But how come many still do not know where gelatin is from?

And how is it that the use of gelatin is so widespread in the food industry?

It has become so common, that it is added to foods you wouldnโ€™t expect to find it in.

Assuming that jello and regular jelly treats are familiar foods made with gelatin, I keep thinking it is not worth mentioning it. But who knows? Personally, I had never thought about gelatin being added to something like marshmallows – until a friend mentioned it and I eventually checked the label. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ

Ever since, reading labels has been veryโ€ฆ interesting… ๐Ÿค”

In order to share some more facts with you, let me tell you that many yogurts in the US
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ contain gelatin as well. This seems very bizarre to me, because in Germany๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช and other European countries, there is no need for yogurt to have gelatin added to them. It is generally quite easy to find plain yogurt that is 100% milk fermented with various lacto-bacteria. Even when it’s not labeled specifically Greek yogurt, it is creamy enough for you to spoon it up. ๐Ÿฅ„

In South Korea๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท, however, the situation is different again. Not only is it difficult to find plain yogurt which has not been sweetened. (Btw, I’m not talking about ‘drinking yogurt’ such as Yakult here.) But similar to my experience in the US, most store-bought yogurts contain gelatin.

๐Ÿคฏ
Mind-blowing.
Why? ๐Ÿ˜ฑ
Why does it need gelatin??? ๐Ÿ˜ต
Big question mark.

So far, I could identify only two brands which neither contain gelatin nor additional sweeteners: Sangha Mokjang‘s Organic Plain Yogurt and Namyang‘s Milk100 Yogurt.

Unfortunately, not every supermarket or convenience store carries these yogurts. On top of that, yogurts are somewhat expensive๐Ÿ’ฒ in Korea – just like many dairy products in general. Because of that, I tend to make yogurt myself.*

Beside yogurt, there are other foods which contain gelatin. I understand that certain dishes, desserts in particular, require a gelling agent for texture. Although there are various gelling agents – also of plant origin -, each gelling agent exhibits certain characteristics and in certain cases, gelatin happens to be the preferred choice.

Regarding my experience in Korea and for reasons unknown to me, the following foods occasionally contain gelatin:

  • yogurt ์š”๊ตฌ๋ฅดํŠธ
  • pudding ํ‘ธ๋”ฉ
  • mousse cakes ๋ฌด์Šค์ผ€์ดํฌ
  • regular fruit jello? ๋ธŒ๋ ์ฒผ? (need to confirm this one still)

As there may be exceptions, you can always check the label or ask someone. In a cafรฉ or at a bakery, you could do so for example by asking like this:

Hoksi jelatin deureogadnayo? “ํ˜น์‹œ ์ ค๋ผํ‹ด ๋“ค์–ด๊ฐ”๋‚˜์š”?” Does this contain gelatin, by any chance?

In conclusion, things are not always what they seem. Gelatin and other animal derived ingredients may be invisible and familiar foods tend to be different in other cultures. Thus, I highly recommend learning Korean language in order to avoid misunderstandings. ๐Ÿ—ฃ

*) This just needs a little bit of preparatory time ๐Ÿ•–, planning ahead๐Ÿ“ and keenness to experiment. ๐Ÿค“ (It will not work if you have a sudden craving for yogurt or are impatient.) Other than that, it’s actually pretty simple and doesn’t require more than fresh milk, a yogurt starter culture and a source of constant warmth, such as a radiator or the traditional Korean floor heating (ondol ์˜จ๋Œ).

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