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Learn how to prepare kosher gelatin
A controversial topic is the status of gelatin. True gelatin consists of denatured proteins, and comes from the processed hides or bones of animals, usually pigs or cows. This also affects the status of some brands of marshmallows. Most kosher products today use vegetable-based gelatin.
Another issue with gelatin is whether it is parve ('not dairy, nor meat'). A kosher parve 'gelatin' made from vegetable gums such as carrageenan combined with food starch from tapioca (which is also suitable for vegans) is commercially available in supermarkets which have substantial Kosher food sections. It does behave differently than protein-based gelatin, however, and cannot always be substituted directly for animal gelatin without modification of the recipe (mixing it with hot water instead of cold water.) Other gelatin-like materials available include combinations of carrageenan and other vegetable gums, such as guar gum, locust-bean gum, xanthan gum, gum acacia, and agar, chemically modified food starch, and chemically modified pectins. Recently, such products have been used in prepackaged gelled fruit products, replacing animal-based gelatin.
Although most gelatin is considered non-kosher, several prominent rabbinic authorities have noted that gelatin undergoes such extensive processing and chemical changes that it no longer has the status of meat, and as such may be considered parve and kosher. This is the position adopted by some Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. Conservative rabbis also say that gelatin is kosher because it undergoes "such a complete change." An explanation of the legal principles surrounding this ruling can be found in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's publication Keeping Kosher: A Diet For the Soul (2000).
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