activity

In this experiment, discover how gelatin, a tiny molecule, can have a huge impact on food’s texture.

safety
  • Uses the microwave
difficulty
  • Beginner
time
  • 30 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time

hey curious cook—

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Prepare Ingredients

Ice
Water
3 teaspoons
unflavored gelatin

Gather Equipment

Large glass
Masking tape
Marker
3
small microwave-safe bowls
1-teaspoon measuring spoon
Liquid measuring cup
Spoon
Oven mitts
Fine-mesh strainer
1
 
Ice
Water

Fill large glass with ice and water. Set aside.

 
2
 

Make a prediction: What do you think will happen when you combine gelatin with hot water, room-temperature water, and ice water?

 
3
 
3 teaspoons
unflavored gelatin

Use masking tape and marker to label 1 small bowl “Room Temperature,” second small bowl “Hot,” and third small bowl “Cold.” Add 1 teaspoon gelatin to each bowl.

 
4
 

Add ¼ cup (2 ounces) room-temperature water to bowl labeled “Room Temperature.” Use spoon to stir gelatin and water until well combined.

 
5
 

Add ¼ cup (2 ounces) room-temperature water to bowl labeled “Hot.” Use clean spoon to stir gelatin and water until combined. Heat gelatin mixture in microwave until steaming, 30 to 60 seconds. Use oven mitts to remove bowl from microwave and let cool slightly. Use spoon to stir mixture until well combined.

 
6
 

Measure ¼ cup (2 ounces) ice water following photo, below. Add ice water to bowl labeled “Cold.” Use clean spoon to stir gelatin and ice water until well combined.

Hold fine-mesh strainer above liquid measuring cup. Pour ice water through strainer until you have ¼ cup (2 ounces) ice water. Discard ice and remaining water.

 
7
 

Observe your results: Look closely at 3 gelatin mixtures and use spoon to stir each mixture. What do you notice? How do the mixtures look similar or different?

 
8
 

Place bowls in refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.

 
9
 

Remove bowls from refrigerator and observe your 3 gelatin mixtures again. Use spoon to stir and scoop each mixture, making sure to scrape along bottom of each bowl. How have the mixtures changed during their time in the refrigerator? Do any of the bowls look like a dessert you’ve seen before? Which one(s)?