May 20, 2008

Gelatine 101

Way back in the 7th grade I was required to take a Home Economics class. I had the choice of either Sewing or Cooking. I chose Sewing. Why, I don't know, as I had already been making my own Barbie clothes, halter tops and other things for quite a while. My mom was a pretty good teacher. I remember making this dreadfully boring A-line skirt in the class. I threw it away at the end of the semester.

Had I chosen the cooking class, I might have been the recipient of some of those great old advertising cookbooks that I collect today. I've previously written about an educational banana booklet that was distributed to schoolchildren in the 50s and 60s and a Fleischmann's Yeast booklet designed for young bakers. Today's booklet is another one published specifically for students.

Some of my very favorite tag sales and estate auctions have been those of retired home ec teachers. Like school librarians, they tend to leave behind large collections of the most interesting paper. In the case of home ec teachers, sometimes there are multiple copies of the old cookbooks that they've saved over the years.

Good Looking Cooking - A Guide to the Use of Unflavored Gelatine for Students (1957, 16 pages) was published by Knox Gelatine. Even back then, it wasn't too soon to start promoting brand loyalty with the kids, although I don't believe the practice was as prevalent then as it is today. Today's advertisers have it down to a fine art.

This booklet is quite logical in it's format, making it easy for students to learn the basics of gel cookery and then advance to the next level.

The booklet "chapters" are divided with a tab-like format into these sections:

  • Why Use Gelatine
  • How to Use Gelatine
  • Whips
  • Sponges & Snows
  • Chiffons
  • Whipped Cream Mixtures
  • Molding
  • Serving
  • Menus & Recipes

It's So Easy to Use - You learn one simple basic method, and every other gelatine dish is just a variation of this.
Basic Gelatine Mixture - a simple combination of unflavored gelatine-plus-liquid

Whip - A clear, basic gelatine that has been chilled until partially set, then removed from the refrigerator and beaten until light and fluffy -- and double in volume

Sponges and Snows - Clear, basic gelatines to which egg whites have been added after the mixture has partially set -- then beaten until stiff, and chilled until firm

Chiffons (and other egg gelatines) - Clear, basic gelatines to which egg yolks are added and the mixture is cooked. It is then chilled, and folded into a stiff meringue of beaten egg whites and sugar.

Whipped Cream Mixtures - Clear, basic gelatines with whipped cream folded into the mixture after it has partially set. Bavarian Creams are made like Chiffons (with egg yolk) and the whipped cream is folded in with the beaten egg whites

There's a Page of Pointers with tips like these:

How Thick is Thick? - Before adding solids, gelatine should be chilled to the consistency of unbeaten egg white. Solids will sink to bottom or rise to top if added when mixture is too thin. Before whipping, gelatin should be chilled to a slightly thicker consistency than unbeaten egg white. If whipped too soon, mixture will become fluid again or will separate, leaving a layer of clear gelatine at bottom. Before adding beaten egg whites or whipped cream, gelatine mixture should be chilled until it mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.

This illustration decorates the section on molding and serving gelatine dishes:

Bavarian Creams are made like Chiffons (with egg yolk) and the whipped cream is folded in with the beaten egg whites.


1 envelope unflavored gelatine
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs--separated
2 tbs lemon juice
1-1/4 cups canned crushed pineapple and syrup
2/3 cup evaporated milk--whipped
18-21 thin chocolate cookies

Mix together gelatine, sugar, salt in top of double boiler.
Beat egg yolk slightly; add lemon juice, pineapple and syrup. Add to gelatine mixture.
Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until gelatine is dissolved (about 8 min.). Remove from heat.
Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into gelatine mixture.
Fold in whipped evaporated milk.
Spoon 1/4 of mixture into waxed paper-lined 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; add layer of cookies. Repeat 3 times, ending with gelatine.
Chill overnight. Unmold and serve with whipped cream.
Yield: 6 servings

This junior cook is on the rear cover:


At 3:03 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

This actually gives better instructions that most boxes of gelatine offer today. I suppose my high school education was lacking, too ...

At 1:59 AM CDT, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

That sounds like a great little booklet with so much info. I still have quite a few of the little booklets I got in my home ec classes. I particulary remember one from Quacker Oats. I have all the recipes I clipped starting around 1968 and a few before. I am a real pack rat. My daughter just told me today,that she was not going to deal with my mess when I die. She would just hire someone to haul it off. No estate sale profit for her I guess :)

At 7:28 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - I thought the instructions and explanations for using the unflavored gelatine were some of the best I've seen in these booklets.

Rochelle - I suspect mine will be put out to the curb as well.

At 7:45 AM CDT, Blogger Carolyn said...

Hi Kathy,
I just saw an old blog about the Chex Create-A-Recipe book. Do you still have it? I won a prize in that contest in 1976, and I don't remember if they put my recipe in the book. Could you check for me? it was a cake, and my name at that time was Carolyn Groth.

At 10:43 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Carolyn - There are two cake recipes in the booklet, but neither one of them are yours. Thanks for stopping by!


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