So many dishes are made with gelatin.
They include many summer favorites.
Both sweet and savory dishes have been based on gelatin.
Children love fruit flavored gelatin based dishes such as jello.
A more adult dinner table can be graced with a salad in a gelatin mould.
Mousses and cheesecakes can both call for gelatin.
So what can a vegan or a strict vegetarian use who wants to avoid animal products.
Even meat eaters may wish to use an alternative to gelatin for health reasons.
Gelatin is derived from beef or pork.
Cooks sometimes make their own by boiling bones or pigs' trotters but most often it is bought in powder form ready made in packets.
It can then simply be added to water that is just below boiling point.
This provides the basis for a whole range of jellied dishes.
A vegan or vegetarian can use rice starch, arrowroot or potato starch for some of these dishes.
A fruit or vegetable flan can be covered in a jelly like glaze by blending a little of one of these products with water and then adding it to boiling water.
It is important to stir the mixture vigorously to prevent lumps forming.
If lumps do form use a food processor to remove them.
But for a molded jelly shape you will need something different.
A seaweed based product called agar-agar is the thing to use here.
This can be bought in powder form and added to hot water just like gelatin.
It is even available to buy it in flavored forms that will make the traditional jello that children and many adults love.
Be careful not to keep an agar-agar jelly too long.
They should be eaten on the same day as they are made because they provide an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
But they are quick to make and quicker than gelatin to set.
So it is not really a problem to make one quickly just before you need it.
In powder form agar- agar will keep for months.
That makes it a good stand by to keep in your store cupboard.
Many non-vegetarians will find it useful to keep some handy for visiting vegetarians.
In many ways it is easier to use than gelatin which can easily go "stringy" if the water used is too hot.
Agar-agar is almost fool proof.