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I can only assume we use gelatine with liquids (or at least the majority of time it's to set a liquid - unless anyone uses it for other reasons?) - so why soak it first? And why do we then squeeze it? I would assume it's to get rid of something but my searches return no results.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Gelatin sheets are soaked in cold-to-room-temp water in order to soften and rehydrate them slightly before stirring them into the (often hot) food. If you were to try to stir a sheet of gelatin directly into hot liquid, you'd find that it behaves a lot like cornstarch. It clumps up immediately and produces unpleasant-to-eat chunks that only a blender and a chinois have a hope of removing.

You squeeze it after soaking to remove excess (unflavored) water from the exterior. Otherwise, each sheet might bring along quite a bit of water, which will seriously affect the consistency of a product you expect to set up, and might affect the taste of even something like a braise to which you are adding the gelatin just for body.

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