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Gelatin Filtration

Gelatin (or Cold) Filtration is a wonderful new way to create intense clear consommés packed with the essence of nearly anything you can dream up. It takes a bit of patience but the actual difficulty level is small and the payoff is worth it.

In traditional consommés, you use a protein raft which means adding egg whites to the top of your liquid and waiting until it attracts the proteins and particulates. Then you use a laddle and break open a center hole and draw up the liquid.

With gelatin filtration, you mix in gelatin, freeze the liquid, then let it slowly defrost in the refrigerator, through a (coffee) filter. When you do this, the gelatin creates a matrix (think of it as a net or web) which traps fats, fibers, and pulps, and leaves you with a pristine liquid.

To make my strawberry consomme, I used the remainder of my bag of frozen berries from Costco. I know, please don’t yell! I let it defrost then I blended it until it was a thick puree. Then I attempted to cook this down over low heat. In retrospect, I am not sure this added anything to the process (besides time) and I think it may have hurt the flavor. Afterward, I strained it, then added 0.5% (by weight) gelatin. What’s funny is that a sheet of my silver bloom gelatin just happened to be 2.5 grams. Talk about luck!

After the gelatin dissolved, I poured the liquid into ramekins and froze them. Then I coerced the pucks out of the containers, cut them in half to fit, and placed them in a Super Bag. This was my little twist on the recipe. The Super Bag has holes only 100 microns (thick as a human hair) wide, so it makes quite the effective filter. Plus they are reusable and the glass jar I has an opening that is slightly smaller so I don’t need any special rigging to get it to stay. This bag went into a tall glass container (which held it perfectly), and then into the door of my refrigerator. After 3 days, I was left with sludge in the bag and a nice deep red/pink strawberry consomme.

I was going to use it for a play on strawberries and cream but I never did. Instead I made a strawberry vodka cocktail for dinner. The cocktail was not very refined but it still worked.

So what can you use this technique for? Anything you can think up! Some ideas I’ve heard of include brown butter, spicy peanut butter, and fried egg!

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