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Which fruit will keep gelatin from setting?

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Q: I was making a gelatin salad and I wanted to throw in some fruit. But isn’t there some reason you can’t fresh fruit in gelatin?

A: Good memory: You don’t see it come up often anymore because congealed salads have fallen out of fashion. (You think it had something to do with the name?)

However, what you’re remembering is the rule about not using pineapple with gelatin. It has an enzyme, bromelain, that breaks down the collagen that makes gelatin gel, turning it into fruit-colored soup.

Pineapple isn’t the only fruit with the problem: Kiwifruit, papaya, mango and guava have a similar enzyme, papain.

Heating the fruit destroys the enzyme and stops the problem. So canned pineapple and mango, which are heat-processed, will work in gelatin. You can heat the other fruit, too, although heating would change the flavor and texture of delicate tropical fruit like kiwi or guava.

Email questions about cooking or food to Kathleen Purvis at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com.
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