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Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, commonly derived from collagen taken from animal body parts. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, beverages, medications, drug and vitamin capsules, photographic films and papers, and cosmetics.
Gelatin is an irreversibly hydrolyzed form of collagen, wherein the hydrolysis reduces protein fibrils into smaller peptides; depending on the physical and chemical methods of denaturation, the molecular weight of the peptides falls within a broad range. Gelatin is in gelatin desserts, most gummy candy and marshmallows, ice creams, dips, and yogurts. Gelatin for cooking comes as powder, granules, and sheets. Instant types can be added to the food as they are; others must soak in water beforehand.
Probably best known as a gelling agent in cooking, different types and grades of gelatin are used in a wide range of food and nonfood products. Common examples of foods that contain gelatin are gelatin desserts, trifles, aspic, marshmallows, candy corn, and confections such as Peeps, gummy bears, fruit snacks, and jelly babies. Gelatin may be used as a stabilizer, thickener, or texturizer in foods such as yogurt, cream cheese, and margarine.
It also is used in the production of several types of Chinese soup dumplings, specifically Shanghainese soup dumplings, or "xiaolongbao", as well as Shengjian mantou, a type of fried and steamed dumpling. The fillings of both are made by combining ground pork with gelatin cubes, and in the process of cooking, the gelatin melts, creating a soupy interior with a characteristic gelatinous stickiness. Gelatin is used for the clarification of juices, such as apple juice, and of vinegar.
In cosmetics, hydrolyzed collagen may be found in topical creams, acting as a product texture conditioner, and moisturizer.
Other technical application:
Originally, gelatin constituted the shells of all drug and vitamin capsules to make them easier to swallow. While it typically still does hypromellose, a vegetarian-acceptable alternative to gelatin which is more expensive to produce, is also used.