Ecosalon Recipes: Gelatin Substitutes for Vegetarians

gummy bears

I imagine in your health consciousness you’ve given up Jell-O as a dessert choice, but you probably have an occasional use for gelatin to thicken jams, jellies and pie fillings. I’m not sure if you ever considered where gelatin comes from, but it’s far from vegan. That nondescript white powder sold as Knox is extracted from the bones, connective tissues and organs of animals. Many people are surprised to learn that something as seemingly innocuous as a gummy bear is not a vegetarian food.

The plant kingdom saves the day. Agar is a colorless, flavorless gelatin-substitute that comes from seaweed. Carrageenan (you probably recognize that from food labels), comes from the sea vegetable known as Irish moss. As you experiment with these gelatin substitutes, note that agar creates a firmer thickening, while carrageenan is a little more liquid. And pay attention to labels when buying candies, jams, yogurts and snacks. Often, vegetarian options are available if you look.

Now thank the plants and carry on with dessert!

Image: Bethany L King