Most jellies on the market contain gelatin, so they may also contain pork. Gelatin is made from boiled animal bones, skin, and ligaments. The most common types of gelatin are cow and pig gelatin. Chicken and fish are also used sometimes. A label that only says ‘gelatin’ may or may not contain pork.
Read on to learn a few important facts about gelatin. I’ll explain how to read the food label if you’re avoiding pork for religious, cultural, or individual reasons.
Is Jelly Made From Pig Fat?
Jelly isn’t made from pig fat. It’s made from pork or beef gelatin, which is made by boiling skin, bones, tendons, and other bits. Furthermore, gelatin is made from collagen, which is a type of protein, not fat.
It’s completely reasonable to think that gelatin is made from pig fat. After all, fat is somewhat gelatinous and gooey.
Surprisingly, we could say that gelatin is made from protein. Fellow gym rats rejoice!
So, how exactly does gelatin count as a protein-derived product?
Gelatin is made by heating and breaking down collagen, the most abundant protein in our bodies. Consuming gelatin increases collagen in your body, which is a very good thing.
On the other hand, pig fat contains no protein whatsoever. It’s entirely made of saturated and unsaturated fats. It also contains a little water, but not much.
So, you can’t make gelatin by boiling pork fat, no matter how long you cook it.
What Is Gelatin Made From?
Gelatin is made from animal bones, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, skin, and other non-edible parts. Collagen (a type of protein) gets broken down at high temperatures and becomes gelatin. The most common are pork, beef, chicken, and fish gelatin.
Collagen is healthy, so gelatin is also good for you. You can eat jelly that contains a lot of gelatin and no sugar all the time.
Spread it on some fresh toast. It’s the perfect snack when you’re craving something sweet.
It’s also a very popular supplement. But why waste money on pills if you can eat delicious jelly instead?
Since eating gelatin brings much-needed collagen into your body, it has the same health benefits. Here are a few:
- Healthier, more elastic skin
- Stronger and denser bones
- Healthier, more flexible joints
- Stronger tendons
All of these become increasingly more important as you age.
You can increase collagen in your body by eating bone broth, using stock in cooking, making homemade jelly, and so on.
So, introduce gelatin into your diet if you’re not vegan.
Which Type of Gelatin Contains Pork?
Porcine gelatin is the gelatin that contains pork. On the other hand, bovine, fish, and chicken gelatin are pork-free. Both powdered and sheet gelatin can be made from any animal.
If you’re buying gelatin, it’ll almost always tell you what type it is on the packaging. That’s very easy.
The problem is when you’re buying a product that lists gelatin as an ingredient. If it says porcine or pork gelatin, you’ll know that it contains pork.
But if it only says gelatin without specifying which type, you’ll have to do some research. If it has a Kosher or Halal certificate, it’s certainly non-pork gelatin.
But for other manufacturers, you’ll have to check their website. Even then, you sometimes won’t be able to find this piece of information. They don’t disclose it.
Which Types of Gelatin Don’t Contain Pork?
Bovine (cow), fish, and chicken gelatin don’t contain pork. You can use these types of gelatin in place of pork gelatin. Vegan gelatin substitutes like agar and pectin also don’t have any pork.
Some product labels will explicitly tell you what type of gelatin they use, while others won’t.
But whenever you buy powdered or sheet gelatin, it’ll tell you what animal it came from.
If you don’t mind eating pork gelatin, it doesn’t matter what type you use for jelly. All gelatin will give the same gummy-like consistency that we know and love.
An honorable mention goes out to vegan gelatin alternatives. You can find agar and pectin in almost any store in the world nowadays.
Use them for jams, jellies, marshmallows, cakes, soups, and so on. I love adding a bit of pectin into my pan sauce to get a thick, silky consistency.
Powdered vs. Sheet Gelatin
The most common types of gelatin are powdered and sheet/leaf gelatin.
Again, most products will tell you right on the label if it’s beef, pork, or something else.
If it says porcine, it’s from pork, and if it says bovine, it’s beef gelatin.
Gelatin powder is granulated, so it’s easy to add to any food. You just have to bloom it beforehand.
Sheet gelatin is like gelatin powder, but it’s made into thin sheets that melt almost instantly. It also looks and tastes better.
If you’re looking for leaf gelatin made from cattle, you can buy the Haodong Gelatin Sheets (available on Amazon.com). They’re halal, non-GMO, and they’re perfect for desserts.
How To Read a Gelatin Label To Ensure It’s Pork-Free
Reading the label of food and medicine is important. Many products on the market contain pork gelatin. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell at first glance.
Before I go over a few food items that might contain pork gelatin, let’s first explain how to check the label.
Here’s how to read a gelatin label to ensure it doesn’t contain pork:
- Look for gelatin in the ingredients list. If it contains gelatin, it’s an animal product. Some products tell you the type, but many don’t.
- Check if there’s a halal certificate. Pork is strictly forbidden for Muslims. If the label says gelatin and has a halal label, it’s non-pork gelatin.
- Check if it’s Kosher certified. Judaism also prohibits pork and other pork products. If there’s a Kosher certificate, it’s pork-free. It’s usually a K or U symbol.
- Check the manufacturer’s website. Some manufacturers will tell you what type of gelatin they use. They may even have a halal or Kosher certificate, but they don’t put it on their products.
- If you can’t find any information about gelatin, don’t buy the product. There’s a 50/50 chance that it contains pork gelatin, so it’s not worth the risk.
Gelatin Foods That May Contain Pork
We all know that jelly and similar foods contain pork gelatin. Pills, supplements, and medicine may also contain pork gelatin.
But now, I’d like to highlight a few gelatin foods that you might forget to check:
- Cake: Everything from cheesecake to fruit cakes can contain gelatin. Chocolate cake may also have it if it has a pudding-like filling. If you’re buying it from a cake shop, you could ask the waiter what gelatin they use. If it’s in the store, check the ingredients.
- Cereal: Frosted Mini-Wheats, pop tarts, Rice Krispies, and dozens of other cereals contain gelatin. Take a glance at the ingredients list before you put it into your shopping basket.
- Peanuts: This is probably the most surprising food on the list. Peanuts are a nut, so how in the world can they contain pork? They’re sometimes fried with a bit of gelatin to make the seasoning stick to it better.
- Mints: It’s easy to tell that a gummy candy contains gelatin. After all, it’s what gives it the texture. But hard candy, like mints, may also contain gelatin. They use it to soften the candy slightly and improve shelf life.
Jelly and gummy bears are popular foods that contain gelatin.
Gelatin is made by boiling animal bones, ligaments, and skin. The boiling process breaks down collagen, which then becomes gelatin.
If that animal is a pig, the jelly contains pork. Check the label to see where the gelatin came from.
For more, don’t miss The Difference Between Jelly and Jam and How They Are Made.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.