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does gelatin ever go "bad"?

  • m

I have some Knox gelatin packets that are at least five years old. Finally I have a use for them, but I'm wondering if gelatin loses its gelling ability if you keep it too long. Any insight?

As a related aside...I'm planning to use the gelatin to make a Champagne fruit "terrine" (a high-falutin' Jello mould), and I'm wondering what kind of loaf dish/pan will be the easiest to 'unmould' my creation: flexible "rubbery" pop-out variety (I fear breaking the terrine in two upon unmoulding, though); pyrex; ceramic; or tin. Suggestions are most welcome !

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  1. As long as it was kept dry it's fine. I found some Knox gelatin and Jello in a container in my summer cabin that were at least 20+ years old and I used them and they were fine.

    If you briefly run warm water on the outside of the container until the sides "slip" then it will unmold perfectly.

    4 Replies
    1. re: the rogue

      Alternatives to the hazards of "running" hot water over the reversed mold:

      Dip the mold into a basin of hot water (briefly) or wrap it with hot towels just long enough to loosen the bond.

      1. re: saucyknave

        "Dip the mold into a basin of hot water (briefly) or wrap it with hot towels just long enough to loosen the bond."

        I once made a tomato aspic from a hand-written recipe I found tucked into a 1940s edition of "The Settlement Cookbook." I was thrilled to find the recipe and couldn't wait to taste the results. I prepared it in the morning, poured it into a fairly shallow, scallop-shaped mold, then let it set until time to serve dinner. While my guests were gathered at the kitchen counter, I ran a few inches of hot water in the sink and carefully held the mold in the water for about 20 seconds, with the surface of the gelled aspic about 1/2-inch above the water. As I pushed the drain to let the water out with one hand and lifted the mold out of the sink with the other, my arm bumped the faucet and we watched as the aspic slid out of the mold and down the drain with the swirling water.

        Moral of the story: opt for the hot, wet towels if at all practical, rather than the sink of hot water!

        1. re: Deenso

          Sounds like an Edward Gorey tale ! L'Aspic Disparu

          1. re: Deenso

            I've also seen a person use a hair dryer to heat the metal.

      2. Hi Magnolia,

        This post just backs up what "The Rogue" said.

        My mother, God bless her, has boxes of Jello brand Gelatin in her pantry, close to about 25 years old. She still makes this stuff up for my my sister's kids. And my nephews and nieces are still kicking and breathing.

        And, she still uses this 1/4 century old Jello stuff in her tin jello molds! These are the old, late "1950's" tin "Jello" molds. After the prepared choice du jour experimantal fruit has been added into the the whatever experimental jello is, (in the appropriate experimental jello mold),and has set in the fridge,... to get it out of the mold, she soaks a spongue in VERY hot water, and swabs the outside of the the mold with the spongue. Loosens things up from the sides, and on your plate comes a perfect gelatin mold. Mom is very proud of this techinque.

        I am very proud of my mother for so many things...but, jello molds aren't one of them!!

        Yoroshiku,
        Andy

        PS. One Christmas, when I was sick with the flu, she embalmed gingerbread men in strawberry Jello, and this was my Christmas pudding.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Andy P.

          "...And my nephews and nieces are still kicking and breathing..."

          To be honest, the potential poisoning aspect didn't even cross my mind. Guests, shmests - they eat what I serve them and they'd better like it !!

          As for your PS...only with the spate of recipes that raise Jello to Martha-esque high art/high kitsch have I been able to "face" Jello again, as it was the very food I was served throughout my childhood whenever I was ill. It conjures a very weird combination of memories both good and bad a) being miserable because I was ill b) being allowed to watch unlimited amounts of daytime TV because I was ill. Now I don't know which would be more punishing - Being forced to eat icky "strawberry" Jello or being forced to watch daytime TV!!

          1. re: Andy P.

            "...And my nephews and nieces are still kicking and breathing..."

            To be honest, the potential poisoning aspect didn't even cross my mind. Guests, shmests - they eat what I serve them and they'd better like it !!

            As for your PS...only with the spate of recipes that raise Jello to Martha-esque high art/high kitsch have I been able to "face" Jello again, as it was the very food I was served throughout my childhood whenever I was ill. It conjures a very weird combination of memories both good and bad a) being miserable because I was ill b) being allowed to watch unlimited amounts of daytime TV because I was ill. Now I don't know which would be more punishing - Being forced to eat icky "strawberry" Jello or being forced to watch daytime TV!!

            1. re: magnolia

              I saw a Torres episode of grapes in Sauternes jelly some time back. I haven't tried it yet, has anyhone else?

              I once made a grape tart, peeling all the grapes and have never done anything like that since as I wouldn't like them in this sort of dessert unpeeled.

          2. Maggie et al: On the subject of jelly molds: For 4th of July I tried the Gina & Tonic Jelly Mold out of Nigella Lawson. Man, oh man were we weaving after that or what! Alcohol content fully intact as no cooking is required once the gin is added.

            Very refreshing too, I might add! As I recall...

            But Nigella does prefer the use of gelatin sheets to powdered... I have to agree with her however I have a huge tin of powdered in my cupboard which still gets used. And it has been there for several years.

            4 Replies
            1. re: kit williams

              Hmm...I'm going to have to contact Nigella, she seems to have a source for some ingredients (like gelatin sheets for example) that are impossible for the average Londoner to find. I live within walking distance of the largest Sainsbury's in London, and a decently-stocked Waitrose and neither one has them. I also called Selfridges, and three high end kitchen/restaurant supply shops (paiges, jaege and divertimenti) and nobody had heard of 'em ! I'll be using Knox. Good for nails, too !

              1. re: magnolia
                s
                Suzanne (formerly CTer)

                If you were in NYC, I'd know exactly where to send you for gelatin sheets. London, though, hmmm? Try a shop that specializes in cakes, baking, and dessert-making paraphenalia and ingredients, rather than a general supermarket (however toney). Or look for a shop that sells only French or Swiss stuff. It's really a very specialized item, not at all widely available.

                BTW, if you need to know conversions between powder and sheets (and agar-agar, for that matter), e-mail me; I've got a table on that.

                1. re: Suzanne (formerly CTer)

                  Thanks -this is my first foray into the world of advanced gelatin, it was pretty easy after all (though the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak, when we taste it tonight!) I used an "American" recipe and as noted, had some American-measured gelatin powder from when I moved here (hence my embarrassing question about whether it goes bad)! PS Why the change in moniker from CTer to Suzanne?

                  1. re: magnolia

                    Well, I made the Prosecco gelatin and fruit dessert which was in one of the recent issues of Gourmet, and it was a huge hit. I filled a non-stick loaf tin with small fruits (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) and peeled fresh peach slices. Then dissolved 1/2 cup of sugar into 1 & 1/2 cups Prosecco, over heat. Took it off the heat, poured it into a metal bowl sitting in ice, stirred in 1/2 cup of Prosecco which had been sprinkled with two packes of Knox gelatin. When cooled to room temperature, I poured the liquid over the fruit and stuck the tin in the fridge until gelled.
                    Bet this could be made with almost any kind of sparkling wine or spirit, though the higher the alcohol content, the less gelled it will be (remember vodka Jell-O shots? )
                    I'll be making this one again, and if anyone has any variations to offer, I'd appreciate it ! This is my kind of dessert.