I vividly remember the first time my grandmother served me tomato aspic: essentially V-8 in Jell-O form, for those who are uninitiated to the oddities of old-school Southern food.
Had I known at the time that this bouncy blob passing for a side dish was made from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of a variety of animals, even my well-enforced dedication to good table manners wouldn’t have persuaded me to take a bite.
(Granny, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry, and your ambrosia is still the best dessert at Thanksgiving!)
After getting over the initial shock of what gelatin actually is, I was even more disturbed to find it popping up in the ingredients list of things that have no resemblance to Jell-O. I found it in pill capsules, frosted cereals, yogurts, cream cheeses, dips, spreads, and even some frozen vegetables. I accepted this hard truth of the world and made a point to read labels very carefully.
As it turns out though, wiser humans than I have actually found a way to change this reality.
Geltor, a San Francisco-based food tech company, has harnessed the power of microbiology to exactly replicate the qualities of gelatin with a completely animal-free alternative.
Sure, there are a few other animal-free gelatin alternatives, but none of them has the same chemical or molecular properties as animal-based gelatin, and they simply don’t perform in quite the same way. In contrast to products like agar or starches that just imitate gelatin, Geltor’s product is the result of programming microbes to produce collagen through a fermentation process.
As writer and editor Elaine Watson puts it in a recent Food Navigator article spotlighting the company:
If you think producing gelatin from a genetically engineered micro-organism in fermentation tanks doesn’t sound like something Grandma would do; hydrolyzing collagen from animal skin, bones, and connective tissues on an industrial scale isn’t exactly a food marketer’s dream either.
Not surprisingly, it’s not just a few vegan eaters who are asking for this highly customizable and high-performing product. Pork-derived gelatin is neither halal nor kosher, and conventional gelatin is never fully free from concerns of animal disease transmission or supply restrictions. Accordingly, both ethical eaters and businesses searching for a safe and reliable supply are clamoring for Geltor to enter the $3 billion gelatin market sooner rather than later.
Don’t get any ideas though, Granny. Tomatoes still do not belong in a gelatinous form.
To learn more about how GFI supports transformative food companies like Geltor, visit our website.