Does Jelly Contain Pork? (Yes and No)

There’s never a specific time of the year when jams and jellies are not in-demand. The jiggly, sweet jellies are everyone’s favorite, primarily consumed in breakfasts, school lunches, and side treats.

You can find an almost countless list of colors and flavors for jellies, but most people are also conscious of whether the jelly they are buying is Halal or Kosher approved.

In other words, does jelly contain pork? The answer might surprise you:

Jelly may or may not contain pork, depending on which gelatin type (porcine/bovine/vegan) is used. Porcine indicates the product has pork, while bovine means the item is prepared from beef, chicken, or fish collagen. For safer options, you can also look for vegan gelatin (agar or pectin).

The following guide covers more about whether jelly contains pork or not and what makes a jelly pork-free.

We’ll also go through some valuable tips and tricks to spot pork-free jellies on your next grocery trip.

What is Jelly Made of?

The jiggly texture and the sweet flavor of jelly are achieved by combining various ingredients, including fruit flavors, water, acids, sugar (and/or sweeteners), and collagen.

However, if we consider the essential ingredients for preparing jelly, then fruit juice, sweetener, and collagen will be counted.

The fruit juice can be extracted from natural fruits, or artificial colors/flavors/dyes are also used.

Mostly, citrus fruits are used or fruits with seeds or skin (lemon, grapes, raspberries, etc.).

The sweetener is mostly sugar, though most jellies also contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose.

The last ingredient, collagen, is a protein found in human and animal bodies. It is so abundant in the body that it makes up to 30% of the body’s protein, found in connective tissue, tendon, bone, skin, and cartilage.

Another name for collagen is gelatin, the ingredient primarily used in preparing jellies. However, most jellies also use a substitute for gelatin called pectin.

The difference between gelatin and pectin is simple: the former is obtained from animals, while the latter is a more vegan-friendly ingredient used in vegetarian and vegan food products.

Gelatin is made from collagen found in animals, while pectin is prepared from fruits. Both the ingredients provide a jiggly texture to the jelly when combined with fruit juice and sweeteners.

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What is Gelatin Made of? Does it Contain Fat?

A common misconception about jelly is that it is made from fat. Because of this, diet-conscious people often tend to stay away from eating this delicious treat as it might contain excessive fats.

However, as mentioned earlier, gelatin is obtained from animals. It is a protein that is converted into gelatin by breaking down at high temperatures.

Collagen is abundant in various non-edible body parts, such as connective tissues, ligaments, skin, and tendons. When converted into gelatin, it can be cooked with fruit juices, sweeteners, and other side ingredients (acid, water, lemon juice, etc.) to prepare a sweet and firm yet spreadable substance (jelly).

Thus, gelatin is made from protein and not fat. Because of this, jelly is also counted as a good low-calorie treat for those on a diet and doesn’t fill the body with excessive fat.

In fact, if the jelly is prepared from natural ingredients (raw fruit juice, honey, and naturally prepared gelatin), it becomes a healthy food.

Types of Gelatin — Which Type Contains Pork?

Jelly contains gelatin which is made from collagen, which is obtained from animals. So, the answer to whether jelly contains pork depends on which animal protein was used for preparing the gelatin for a jelly.

Sounds confusing? Consider the “sources” of gelatin used for jelly. Collagen (protein) can be obtained from a variety of meat, such as beef, chicken, fish, and pork.

Now, the jelly you are buying might contain gelatin made from beef, chicken, or fish — which is fine for Halal or Kosher-approved products. However, if the gelatin is made from pork collagen, the jelly will also contain pork.

The simplified terms for these different types of gelatin are porcine and bovine.

Porcine gelatin contains pork. It is prepared from pig collagen, and thus, the jelly prepared from porcine gelatin will have pork in it.

Bovine gelatin is made from fish, beef, or chicken collagen. It doesn’t contain pork, and thus, the jelly prepared from bovine gelatin will be pork-free.

Another type of gelatin is vegan gelatin. As the name suggests, it doesn’t contain collagen from any animal.

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In vegan gelatin, vegan-friendly substitutes such as agar or pectin are used. Pectin is the most common gelatin substitute used in vegan and vegetarian jellies.

Now, gelatin is also classified into sheet/leaf and powdered gelatin. These terms refer to the shape/texture of gelatin and not the type of collagen it is prepared from.

Powdered gelatin is available in powder form, making measurements easier when cooking jelly.

Sheet/leaf gelatin is thin sheets; this type of gelatin has four distinct strengths (platinum, bronze, gold, and silver), measured by their “bloom strength.”

Thus, you can identify the gelatin type in various forms, whether it is porcine, bovine, or vegan. Further, gelatin can be classified into sheet/leaf or powdered forms.

Tips to Read a Gelatin Label to Check if it has Pork

Whether you buy sheet/leaf or powdered gelatin, you should always look for the type of collagen it is prepared from. That is, unless you are okay with eating pork gelatin, you should make sure the gelatin is prepared from chicken, fish, or cow.

Also, when buying jelly or gelatin, you can know if it contains pork or not by reading the label. Some labels mention pork, letting buyers know its pork consistency.

Other than that, the animal the gelatin is derived from is also mentioned on sheet/leaf and powdered gelatin products.

For better identification, the following are some helpful tips when looking for pork-free gelatin/jelly.

When you pick a product, the ingredients list is first found on the label. You can look for gelatin or pectin if it’s jelly. Having pectin mentioned is a relief as the product is vegan-friendly/pork-free.

However, if it has gelatin mentioned, then your next step should be to look for the type of gelatin it is. Even if it is gelatin you are buying, the type of gelatin will tell you if it contains pork. Porcine means the product has pork while bovine means it is made of beef, chicken, or fish and doesn’t contain pork.

You can also look for Halal or Kosher certification. A Halal or Kosher label will mean the product contains no pork, whether it’s jelly or gelatin.

If there is no specific gelatin type or Halal/Kosher certification mentioned on the label, you should check the brand’s website. Due to limited space, manufacturers sometimes mention only general ingredients on the product’s label. You can find the whole ingredients’ lists on the website, from where you can judge if the product is pork-free or not.

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Lastly, you may sometimes find products with no gelatin type mentioned, nor does the brand’s website have any helpful information.

It puts the product at risk of whether or not it contains any product.

It is better not to buy jelly/gelatin in such a case. Whether you refrain from eating pork due to religious reasons or prefer a vegetarian/vegan diet, always ensure the product has an explicit mention of the gelatin type.

Note that vegan products are easier to find. So, if you cannot find pork-free jelly/gelatin, you can always look for vegan options, as pectin is just the same as gelatin and gives the jelly that jiggly texture.

Bottom Line

The cooking world is full of endless jelly recipes, and the most fundamental and essential ingredient required is collagen. It’s a protein obtained from animals, mainly from cows, pigs, fish, and chickens.

Gelatin is a usable form of collagen, available in powder or sheet/leaf form. You can buy either, but make sure the product doesn’t contain gelatin (collagen) from pigs.

For this, the two terms to remember are porcine and bovine. A jelly/gelatin containing porcine in its ingredients list has pork, while bovine indicates the product is pork-free.

Also, because collagen is a protein, it doesn’t make gelatin a fatty product. Thus, jelly is not considered harmful if it is prepared from natural ingredients (raw fruit juice, natural sweeteners, organic collagen).

Lastly, the best way to judge whether a jelly/gelatin has pork or not is to look for Kosher/Halal certification. Else, go through the ingredients list and find which animal collagen/gelatin is used.

When you cannot find the gelatin type used, you should visit the brand’s website to see the whole ingredients list and the consistency used.

If you are still unsure, it’s better to leave the product untouched and look for pectin-based jelly/gelatin as it is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly item.