So I've been doing a bit more cooking while confined to my home and I wanted to make a recipe that calls for gelatin. I don't have any and I don't expect to be doing another grocery run for a few weeks.

However, I have two things for sure: Jell-O powder and time. The powder, from the looks of the description, is mostly gelatin, sugar, artificial coloring, and flavoring. Let's assume for simplicity's sake that this is the only combination, and also that I don't care if some coloring makes it into my final product. I also won't care if a little sugar gets in. I mostly don't want the artificial flavoring.

I don't remember my chemistry well (and honestly I never learned too much about physical chemistry or materials chemistry), but here are some thoughts I had:

  1. DIY centrifuge. I don't know whether this works with powders.
  2. Dissolve in water and boil off some of the materials. I imagine this will require a higher heat than I can produce, seeing as Jell-O needs to be boiled in the first place, and I don't know what it'll do to the gelatin.
  3. Dissolve in something in which gelatin is (or isn't) soluble, then filter. I don't know what this would be.
  4. Dissolve in water and precipitate out undesired substances via a chemical reaction. I don't know what this would be either.

This task is probably impossible for me with my current experience and materials. Even if so, I hope it's an interesting question to ponder.

  • 3
    Plan B: order gelatin powder to be delivered by mail. – The Photon Apr 26 at 1:55
  • @ThePhoton you got me there (in fact, I've been getting groceries delivered anyway). I suppose I'm mostly curious about whether this is doable in the first place. – cole Apr 26 at 2:18
  • I posted an answer that is a bit silly, but in all seriousness, you could post another question saying "I am making Dish X, here are the ingredients. I don't have any gelatin. Is here anything to use instead?" – Damila Apr 27 at 18:30

Not guaranteed:

If you don't mind just wasting the Jello, or winding up with Jello as a snack*, you can try this to kill some time:

Try to dissolve the whole thing in very cold water. Maybe even ice water. The water must stay cold for this to have a chance.

The sugar should dissolve at least some, and with stirring a little more. The sugar in the packet is superfine compared to table sugar if my memory is correct.

The gelatin will absorb water but not dissolve. so it should precipitate to the bottom.

Decant the liquid off. take care to keep everything cold.

Then maybe try it all again to further purify.

This should reduce the percentage of sugar in whatever you have.

The flavoring is probably citric acid and esters, so they are probably very water soluble.

The problems:

You will not know precisely what percentage of whatever is left is gelatin vs. other stuff.

You will not know how much "dry" gelatin is left as it will be hydrated now. So for example, will not know how much of your gelatin = 1 tsp of dry gelatin.

The chemistry Taking advantage of relative solubility of the components in cold water. This site says gelatin will absorb but not dissolve in water under 40*C (about 104*F).

*If it fails, just heat the whole thing up in a sauce pan until all dissolved (do not boil), stir well, and then pour into bowls and chill.

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  • Interesting, creative solution. – Tim Nevins Apr 28 at 15:42
  • I'm pretty sure this won't work :( We use gelatine because it doesn't precipitate, it creates a spongy structure which holds water and everything that is dissolved in it. – rumtscho Apr 29 at 8:14
  • This is the most helpful answer so far, so I'm accepting for now. Thank you for taking the time to suggest this method. I'll let you know if I try it. – cole Apr 30 at 20:36

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