Ever wonder where your gulaman came from, or how they came to be?

Powdered and Sheet gelatins, usually sold in supermarkets, are extracted from collagen, a by-product of boiling pig's or cow's knuckles(pata) and hooves.

Yes, from that same gelatinous broth we get when we cook Nilagang Baka, that which sets and jiggles when it cools down.

The first time I heard about this was from watching an America's Test Kitchen special "Fannie's Last Supper" where they recreated a 12-course Victorian dinner from the 1900's cookbook of well-known culinary expert Fannie Farmer.

One of the dessert courses was Victorian jelly, made from the gelatin formed by boiling calf's feet for hours.

Now, you might ask : why is it important to know where the gelatin we use come from?

It was really never an issue for most Filipinos, who are predominantly Christians -- meaning, no religious restrictions to eat pork or beef.

But if your religion prohibits you to eat pork(Moslems), or cows (Indian Hindus), or non-Kosher meats (Jewish), does this mean you cannot eat any gelatin dessert, for that matter?

I don't have the answer because many would argue that the chemical composition of collagen changed with the processing to obtain the powdered or sheet gelatin by-product.

To be on the safe side, we go with the alternative to animal gelatin : the Agar-agar - yes, that lightweight bar that comes in red, green or offwhite so commonly found in most Asian markets.

Made from seaweed, it is also known as 'vegetarian gelatin', and can come in powdered form, in threads or in flakes.



  • 1 stick Agar-agar stick
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • few drop of desired food color
  • 1 tsp. flavor (lemon, pandan or vanilla)


Just follow box instruction.


1Soak the agar-agar in water, set aside for 30 minutes.

2Simmer for 10 minutes or until the agar-agar is fully dissolved, then add the sugar, flavoring or food color.

3Set on a mould or pan to cool, refrigerate, then cut in cubes or desired sizes.


  • When making the gelatin using agar-agar, do not add sugar until the agar-agar is fully dissolved, otherwise your gelatin will not come out smooth.
  • Refrigerate the uncut gelatin to cool completely before cutting in cubes so it doesn't become watery.
  • If your gelatin is a little too firm and not jiggly for your taste, dissolve it back to heat and add some water, then chill to set again.
  • Gelatins don't do well with freezing.
  • To know more about powdered gelatins, see

Lastly, not a Cooking tip but equally important, especially if you live outside of the Philippines :

Before you offer other people from different religious orientation our refreshingly sweet Sago gulaman drink or the delicious Buko Pandan, take into consideration where your gulaman was made from.

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