Have you been hearing more about the benefits of gelatin, and are interested in finding a quality gelatin powder, but aren’t sure which kind to get? You’re not alone!
A very common question I am asked from readers is, “What’s the difference between all these different types of gelatin powder? And how do you choose?”
I hope this little guide will help to answer that for you, so you can make a decision and be on your way to incorporating lots more gelatin goodness into your daily diet!
Nix the Knox
First thing’s first. The most important factor when choosing a powdered gelatin is the same as with choosing any animal product—the source matters.
So, we don’t want to be supporting the horribly unethical practices of factory farming, nor do we really want to be eating animal products that are laced with all kinds of drugs and hormones, right? Right. I don’t do factory-farmed meat, myself, and I don’t do factory-farmed gelatin, either.
Unless the gelatin powder specifically says where it was sourced, and from what kind of animals, you can be fairly certain that it is simply a byproduct of the CAFO (factory farming) industry. It’s usually primarily pig parts, with some cow hide mixed in.
To my knowledge, there are only two brands of gelatin powder sourced from responsibly-farmed, pastured (grass-fed) animals: Great Lakes and Bernard Jensen. The former is more widely available, and comes in several different varieties, so that’s what I’ll be discussing here to help guide you in your decision.
But if you’re interested, Bernard Jensen grass-fed gelatin is available from a company here at the Village Green Marketplace.
Red or Green?
Now, there are two main types of my favorite grass-fed gelatin powder—collagen (gelatin), and collagen hydrolysate. They come in red (well, okay kind of orangeish, but it looks red in the pictures) and green canisters, respectively. Let’s look at the differences.
Red: Regular Gelatin
Gelatin powder is simply cooked collagen, reduced to a pure protein powder. This is the same type of protein you’ll see when you make homemade bone broth—if you get enough collagen-rich bones and other parts in there, the broth will gel in the fridge. That’s the gelatin working.
The regular gelatin from the red canister will also cause a liquid to gel when added to it and then cooled. And this is great, because you can use this type of gelatin for making treats like homemade jello, fruit snacks, gummies, and other fun jellied treats!
So, remember: the red gelatin = gel.
The red gelatin also needs to be dissolved in hot liquids only. It will form clumps of hard goo if you try to mix it into cold liquids.
What do you do with it?
Here are just some of the many things you can do with gelatin powder.
- Make jello!
- Fruit snacks
- Gummy candies
- Panna cotta
- Thicken ice cream
- Thicken homemade yogurt
- Add to soups and stews
- Make gravy
- Mix into smoothies or milkshakes
Green: Collagen Hydrolysate
In the green canister, is a special type of gelatin powder—collagen hydrolysate. It is quite different from the regular gelatin in the red canister, because it does not cause liquids to gel.
And that’s because collagen hydrolysate is heated to a higher temperature and enzymatically treated to reduce the molecular weight, thus limiting its ability to congeal, or gel.
It’s also because of this reduced molecular weight that collagen hydrolysate is easily dissolvable in both cold and warm liquids. It’ll just stir right into even very cold liquids without clumping, or causing the liquid to congeal. And that means, it’s really convenient to take! I usually just stir about a tablespoon into a glass of milk during a meal, and I don’t notice any off-taste. It’s an easy way to get in an extra boost of gelatin without having to make anything special out of it!
What to do with it:
Stir it into…
…and just about anything else you can think of.
So, think green = goes with anything!
Collagen hydrolysate is more quickly assimilated into the body than regular gelatin, and greatly improves hydration to the connective tissues. It also higher amounts of the amino acids glycine, lysine, and proline, which are particularly beneficial to cell growth and reproduction. That means it’s very good for supporting a healthy and nourished metabolism!
Find green canister collagen hydrolysate here:
16 ounce container
16 ounce pack of 2
Porcine or Kosher?
Among the red canister variety of gelatin, there are yet even more decisions to be made! You have two options: kosher or porcine. Kosher meaning, pig-free and from cows only, and porcine which is primarily from pig parts (hide and bones). Which one is right for you? Here are the benefits and distinctions of each.
Benefits of Kosher (Bovine)
- It’s kosher! If pork products are not an option for you, due to religious or other reasons, the all-bovine kosher gelatin is the way to go.
- 100% grass-fed. This gelatin comes entirely from grass-fed cows, healthy and happy and eating a pure diet completely appropriate for their species.
- The porcine gelatin comes from pigs which are responsibly-farmed, but are eating a varied diet which may not be 100% what they would naturally eat if they were undomesticated.
Benefits of Porcine
- It’s cheap! The porcine gelatin powder is a more affordable option than the kosher variety. Especially when you get the two-pack.
- Made primarily from the hide (skin) of pigs
- Pure quality piggie protein—no industrial waste or questionable parts of other animals involved
The More Gelatin, the Better!
So in response to the question, “Which gelatin powder should I get?” my answer would be: all of them! (Aside from the factory-farmed kind, of course.) Just like I try to get a variety of meat sources in my diet, a variety of gelatin sources is also probably beneficial—so I get both porcine and kosher.
And I definitely always have both the red and green kinds on hand in my kitchen—I love making jello and other gelled foods, but the collagen hydrolysate is so easy to incorporate into my diet that I take some of it every day! Whether from cooked gelatin powder, or homemade bone broth, all gelatin is good gelatin. I encourage everyone to get as much of it as you can!
Are you a gelatin junkie, too?
Which kind is your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments.