Gelatin has been a popular mainstay in Western kitchens for hundreds of years, but became even more popular when Charles Knox developed pre-granulated gelatin in 1890. Knox gelatin can be used as an ingredient in multiple types of dishes, including cheesecakes, gelatin desserts and some instant drinks. Despite its wide use, any gelatin, including Knox's, is actually comprised of only one ingredient: animal collagen. The source of this collagen can vary, but is generally refined the same way.
All gelatins are created by refining animal collagen; the process is so extensive, that the resulting gelatin is entirely free of animal products. Contrary to popular belief, gelatin is not manufactured from the horns and hooves of animals, since these animal parts do not contain enough collagen. Gelatin is refined exclusively from any collagen-based tissue from animals raised and slaughtered for food purposes.
The manufacturing process to turn collagen tissue into gelatin is extensive. First, the animal tissue is soaked in alkalies and acids. These acids weaken any non-collagen tissue, which is then washed off in clean water. The collagen is converted into a basic form of glycerin during this soaking process. This material is cooked in pure water to extract the gelatin, which is then further filtered.
Because nothing is added during the refinement process, gelatin is a completely natural product. Gelatin itself contains no sugar, no carbohydrates, low sodium and only trace amounts of fat. Gelatin is also very low in calories and is a good source of protein. There is no known plant source of gelatin, so there is no nutritional or chemical relationship between gelatin and ingredients known as vegetable gelatins.
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Gelatin is not nurtitionally well rounded enough to be a single protein source, but it does contain as many as 18 beneficial amino acids. Gelatin is a good source of Lysine and Proline, both of which work together with Vitamin C to reverse some artery blocking deposits. Gelatin is also high in Glycine which aids in digestion and the synthesis of hemoglobins and DNA. Gelatin also helps power liver functions and has been shown to alleviate some allergies and sensitivities in people with B and AB blood types.