Gelatin is a water-soluble glutinous protein obtained from animal tissues. It is used to bond certain ingredients in a recipe together, and to keep them from separating during and after the cooking or baking process. However, gelatin can not be eaten by all. Vegans will not eat gelatin because it contains animal tissues, members of particular religious groups will not eat certain types of animals or their byproducts, and some people may have food allergies or dietary restrictions which prevent them from eating gelatin. When preparing a recipe which calls for gelatin for individuals who fall into one of these groups, there is an alternative. Xanthan gum is a thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying agent made from polysaccharide, which is a gluten-free, corn-based product. It can safely replace gelatin in any recipe that calls for it, with no extra preparation or baking needed. Xanthan gum and gelatin are commonly used to in the production of baked goods, such as breads and muffins. The gum or gelatin holds the item together and prevents it from going flat. Using either of the products in dairy and salad dressings keep the ingredients bonded, preventing them from separating. Additionally a small amount of either product can be used in ice cream and frozen yogurts to prevent ice crystals.
Find xanthan gum in the baking aisle of your grocery store. Xanthan gum is sold in a powdered-form and is commonly found in individual-sized packets. If you are unable to find it at your regular grocery store, try a health food store or a grocery store which specializes in gluten-free or organic products.
Measure out half the amount of xanthan gum in lieu of the full amount of gelatin that a recipe calls for. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 tbsp. of gelatin, use 1 tbsp. of xanthan gum. For baked products, the amount of xanthan gum is typically around 1 tsp. for every cup of flour added. Always measure the xanthan gum carefully. If too much is added, your product may be heavy or gummy.
Add the xanthan gum to the recipe when the recipe calls for you to add gelatin. It is typically whisked or mixed into the ingredients in the bowl, causing the ingredients to stick or gel together.
Prepare the recipe following the remainder of the recipe. No further steps, precautions or ingredients need to be added or substituted. Once your items are prepared, note the texture and consistency of the item. If it seems to be too heavy or gummy, cut out 1/4 tsp. of xanthan gum from the recipe the next time you prepare the recipe. It may take several attempts to find a consistency that you are happy with.