substitute for gelatin?

Joined Jan 15, 2001
A client is requesting my pastries but wants no gelatin in any of the items( I think she has an aversion to where it's derived from). What could I use as a substitute for gelatin? Pectin? And how much would I have to use for mousses and such? Many thanks for the help!
Joined Mar 13, 2001
AGAR-AGAR Also called agar, kanten, Japanese gelatine, Japanese moss and Ceylon moss, agar-agar is an Asian product extracted from dried seaweed. Neutral in taste and with a more efficient thickening power than gelatine, it's used for many Asian fruit puddings, jellies and other gelatinous desserts. It can be found in Asian markets and should be stored in a cool, dry place.

I hope that helps.


[ May 04, 2001: Message edited by: Kimmie ]
Joined Dec 30, 1999
gelatin = animal jelly = gelatine

Equivalents: One envelope of plain gelatin = 1/4 ounce = 1 tablespoon. This is enough to gel 2 cups liquid. Four sheets leaf gelatin = 1 envelope powdered gelatin

Notes: Gelatin is made from the bones, skins, hooves, and connective tissue of animals, including pigs. Some kosher and animal-free gelatins are available.

Substitutes: agar (Sets and melts at a much higher temperature; will remain firm without refrigeration.) OR guar gum OR carrageen OR arrowroot

From: ;)

Look here for vegetarian gelatin resources.
Joined Mar 13, 2001

Have you seen the kosher/halal gelatin topic, on this very same forum?

There's more talk on the subject.

Joined May 6, 2001
I know you can get a vegetarian gelatin. My sister is Islamic and can not use the one derived from an animal source, this is what she uses. I don't know of a source however.
Joined Aug 5, 2010
Just wondering about actual chemicals in the products and those used to process them.  I have gluten intolerance and was told to avoid all MSG.

Carageen is seaweed, MSG

Agar is also seaweed, MSG

Gelatin was also on the MSG avoidance list.  But, it seems as though there are at least two different kinds.  (animal and vegetable)  Does the animal form have a glutamate protein and a sodium?  What is it manufactured with?

What are the particulars of arrowroot?  Is it just a type of grain/flour that can be used for thickening?

Any kind of help is very much appreciated.  So, I will thank you all ahead of time for taking time to read my post.

(Sorry if I ask too many questions.  Last year I saved my own life when the doc said I was dying and he did not know what was wrong.  I just want to be so careful and not eat anything that would make me so ill again.:)
Joined Aug 4, 2010
Flax seed can thicken.  I have used it to bind gluten free vegan burgers and ice cream.  I've only tried it with raw seeds, simmered a bit and blended - gets real thick.

I have never heard before that MSG is in seaweed, I thought it came from a type of grain. (?)

Joined Aug 5, 2010
Thanks for hint about flax seeds.  I will have to try them. 

In answer to your question.

The highest amount of natural MSG is found in seaweed.  Beets also contain one of the highest amounts of natural MSG.  (Interesting side note, when sugar does not say cane sugar, it is beet sugar.  Usually local store brands are beet sugar.  I have called to ask.)

MSG can also be processed and/or used as a processing agent.  Anytime a label says glutamate protein and sodium you get MSG. Where there is MSG there is usually gluten. MSG is found in all self basting turkeys, most canned broths, soups, and now in canned tuna fish as well.  The marker is "broth".  Whenever anything is marked broth there is glutamate protein and a sodium.  Also, there are other ways that labels hide MSG.  They may say natural flavorings.  Well, MSG can be all natural or processed.  There is a website about MSG and labeling, it has been very helpful in keeping me healthy.  I can't remember the name, but it was something about truth and MSG, or names for MSG.  I read it, printed, remember it when I read labels, but can't remember the sights.  But, you should be able to find it online.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat.  I am not sure as to glutamate protein.  At this time I just know that they are related somehow.  Being gluten intolerant has really been scary for me as I began to explore labels and what is really being put into our food.  Whenever I eat the wrong thing my body stops digesting and I become very ill.  My step dad is a biochemist and he has also helped out with some stuff.  This is why I am still on the search for "what is what".  It seems to be pretty complex at times.  Add to it a severe milk allergy.  This is why I have become a good cook.  :)
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Can you produce any factual medical evidence stating that MSG is harmful to your health? It occurs naturally in many foods we consume..

Nitrites and sulfur  also are in our daily diet. The other thing MSG is in is hydrogielzed vegetable protein. Sugar and salt based on the volume of our total daily consumption is worse then MSG.
Joined Feb 13, 2008

With all due respect you are very confused about gluten and it's relationship to glutamates.  For what it's worth, not all glutamates are equal, nor are they particularly like MSG. 

Most of your other "information" -- as a matter of science, chemistry and any other objective viewpoint -- is also false.  For instance, "broth" does not equal MSG.  Also, "hydrolized vegetable proteins" aren't MSG, and neither are "natural flavors." 

MSG is MSG is MSG.  If it's in packaged food it must be listed as one of the contents.  Period.  The end.  There are no workarounds. 

If someone tells you something else is so much like MSG as to be a functional equivalent, make them explain the chemistry.  Just because something is a glutamic acid it doesn't mean it's like MSG.  Even if there's sodium around (and when isn't there sodium?).

Websites and other sources promoting "healthy" and "natural" foods and lifestyles are not necessarily purveyors of anti-science, junk science, and other unscientific propaganda, but you'll end up rich if you can find someone to take even money on their accuracy.   

Ed rocks.

Sorry about the rant,

Joined Aug 5, 2010
For those wanting to know some of my resources:

I agree that a lot of "natural food" garbage is just that. I rant about that as well. As I mentioned before, I have been learning and have been asking a lot of questions.  It is completely frustrating sometimes.  There is even debate on some things as to their gluten content when they have been okayed by the government and called gluten free.   All I know right now is that stuff containing MSG is off limits to someone who is gluten intolerant.  By following that, I am alive to write this email.  Best wishes in your search. 
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Ann       Please do not believe what the government tells you or states. They will not state a product is no good, simply because they are blocked at every turn by the politicians that represent the state or place where the product sources if not politician it will be a lobbyist. If any one is crazy enough to believe anything the government tells us then they are nieve.. Today they do not even have the resources to do inspections that they are supposed to do... Ask any of the websites you mentioned to give you a documented medical source.  THEY CAN"T
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Ummm. getting back to gelatin...

As menioned agar-agar is a good substitute, and is available in it's natural form ( clear seawood) as well as procesed powder.  Agar is very popular with many of the Asian cuisines.r

Other vegetable gums are also available.

Pectin can also be used, there are two varieites: One is derived form apples (ripe apples contain no pectin, only unripe fruit contains pectin), and the other is derived from citrus fruit and seeds.

For mousses and the like you can also use pure cocoa butter, or white or milk chocolate to "stiifen" up the mix.

Gelatin is a natural product, as others have said, made form connective tissue from animals. It is made by a heat process, and very few, if any, chemicals are used.  Be aware, "isinglass" is a natural product, also used to refine/clarify beers and wines, and also used in glue manufacturing.  It is the float bladders of non-oily fish, namely Sturgeon, that are processed using heat and water processes 

For a "blast from the past" google "Peter Cooper" (Yup, that Peter Cooper) a famous American who made his (first) fortune by making (and patenting) hide glue ( the only glue known to mankind prior to WW1)  He also invented the process of making gelatine, which got bought and sold by several people until General Foods bought it, and changed the name to "Jell-O"


Joined Mar 2, 2006
I saw that on the food channel today, scary to think jell-o was originally a by product of making glue YUK! but YUM! at the same time.

Can anyone with real world experience post equivalencies for substituting agar and the like for gelatin? This would come in handy for all of us for future reference.

My Internet searches yield varying results.
Joined Aug 16, 2010
Hi there everyone! So, I'm the new kid on the block and I just wanted to introduce myself and ask all you lovely folksies a few questions. I'm born and raised here in Texas, I have a fantastic loving boyfriend/fiancee, an amazing kid sister, and I adore food. These things combined cause me to mass search the internet looking for new, healthy and on the topic of gelatin, less disgusting ways to make tasty treats for the folks here at home that are so dear to my heart. As of right now my family and I are planning my baby sister's eleventh birthday party, and she wanted to do this really fantastic hippie theme, and  I already have everything planned out as to the cake and the cupcakes and even the decorations. However, one day when searching the internet out of curiosity which both horrified and disgusted this  cat, I discovered a few rumors that gelatin is  animal by-products and unwilling to feed such a disgusting,  thing as that to my wonderful family and also my little guinea pigs /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif hehehe I went on a hunt for substitutes for gelatin, and low and behold I found this lovely website, yay!!! Anyhow long story short, the reason I listed myself as someone who just likes food is because I don't feel that I'm at a level where I deserve to be called a chef or a cook just yet, although my fiancee and I love to experiment in making dinner, I am waiting  until I have more experience and knowledge and higher mastery of the skills needed to be an honest cook, at least in my heart. So, I would love it if ya'll could please explain to me exactly how each of your gelatin substitutes work especially the post about the flax seed. Just a little side note, I am making chocolate based recipes so please keep in mind that retaining flavor is key here.

Thanks a bunch! I can't wait to hear what ya'll have to say!!
Joined Oct 10, 2005
What do you find "disgusting" about gelatine?

True, some people won't use it for religious reasons, or dietary reasons.

It's made fom the connective tissue of animals.  Basically the same thing that gives "body" to stocks and sauces, and is made the same way too.
Joined Aug 16, 2010
Hello again! Yes, they are relatively the same, which is why you don't see me making stocks very often. I'm sorry but I just can't eat something knowing what it actually is. Maybe if I had never found out, I would still love gelatin but that's just the way I am. So, back on track to  the subject of gelatin Substitution. I am going to attempt to make my trial run today for the cupcakes first, and I would really like to know the best substitutes for gelatin. Last night, when I was reading someone suggested using raw flax seeds and simmering them for a bit so I was hoping to find out a bit more. I also would like to know which is the best gelatin substitute for a mousse recipe, I have heard of agar-agar, kuzu, tapioca powder, pectin, and arrowroot powder but everywhere that I have looked no one seems to give any in-depth information on these, i.e how long it takes for them to thicken, how well they thicken as compared to gelatin, and if they add any strange aftertastes to the dish. So, I would love a gelatin substitute that will either add to the flavor and texture of my chocolate-caramel mousse, or one that is very subtle and does not leave an aftertaste. Does anyone have any suggestions for me, on my journey of experimentation in the world of food?

Thanks again,you guys.
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Joined Sep 18, 2008
Joined Mar 10, 2006
So here is Martin Lersch's book on Hydrocolloids (of which gelatin is one):

If you are using agar, be aware that it has a melting point that is above body temperature, which gives is a crumbly brittle texture instead of a smooth one. It probably wouldn't be as noticeable in something like a mousse than it would in a panna cotta ect...

A rough conversion between gelatin and agar is about 3:1 by weight (I.E. 10g of gelatin will gel about as much as 3.4g agar). The exact conversion is in the book, though.

Another good hydrocolloid for gelling is sodium alginate (famous for its use in spherefication). It has a very similar texture, but is another type of extract from seaweed.
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