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The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Gelatine & Aspic

Updated on October 12, 2015

Gelatine and aspics are not thickening agents but setting agents. They are used to glaze and set foods.

Gelatine is extracted from gelatinous bones and tendons and is available as a powder or in transparent sheets. Gelatine is mostly used in dessert preparation, for example, fruit flan and cream bavarois.

Aspic is a clear, savoury jelly and is obtained by clarifying a highly gelatinous stock, for example, beef, veal or fish stock. It is mostly used to glaze cold meats in order to enhance their appearance and prevent them from drying out. Aspic is also used to set vegetables and meat, for example, vegetables in aspic, and brawn.


  • Starches are the most commonly used thickening agents
  • Starch thickens by the process of gelatinisation
  • A roux must be thoroughly cooked to avoid a floury taste.
  • Beurre manie is an uncooked paste of flour and butter
  • Arrowroot is used when a clear finish is required.
  • Modified starches are the only starches that can be successfully frozen and reconstituted.
  • Egg yolks thicken by the processes of coagulation and emulsification
  • Egg yolks are mostly used to enrich and add smoothness to a dish
  • Blood, bread, purees and grains may be used to thicken some dishes
  • Gelatine and aspic are setting agents not thickening agents


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