What is Gelatine?
‘a virtually colourless and tasteless water-soluble protein prepared from collagen and used in food preparation, in photographic processes and in glue’
In ancient times gelatine was used as a natural adhesive. The Ancient Egyptians used glue made from animal collagen for wood furnishings and paintings. Later, the Greeks and Romans used it in marquetry and pottery. The use of broth made from animal bones and skins has been found in the early few centuries AD. In the 15th and 16th centuries gelatine had become a luxury item for kings and aristocrats in England, used with food as a jelly. Although there is evidence of knowledge of gelatine’s nutritional benefits much earlier, it was in the 17th century that scientists really began propagating its nutritional and physiological qualities.
The industrial production of gelatine evolved fast during the Napolean era. This was primarily because of the shortage of meat caused by the blockade made by the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars of French ports. An alternative source of protein was needed for the population and gelatine was deemed the most suitable. A commission was set up, headed by a chemist named d’Arcel to initiate the production of gelatine on an industrial scale. The research eventually led to improved methods of production and the first company to manufacture gelatine on an industrial scale was founded in 1818 in Lyons, France by the name of Coignet & Cie.
Around the same time, the hard capsule industry started taking shape as gelatine capsules were developed for medicine dosage. This method of medicine delivery kept the medicine protected from heat, cold and humidity as well as eliminating the unpleasant taste of medicines.
Now, gelatine has been established as an ingredient of choice for a multitude food, pharmaceutical and technical applications as can be seen in Uses of Gelatine