Homemade Gelatin Plates for Growing Microorganisms





In the microbiology laboratory different types of media are used to grow microorganisms. Nutrient agar is typically used in the laboratory, but can be expensive to buy and difficult to make in a home setting. Gelatin plates are able to grow various types of fungi as well as some bacteria. Only microorganisms that utilize the enzyme gelatinase will be able to break down the gelatin as a source of protein. If you choose to grow organisms on the gelatin that can use it as a nutrient source, the gelatin will assume a more liquid consistency after the organisms break it down.

The process of creating gelatin plates is simple and can be completed using materials available at the grocery store. This project is intended for people who have had some experience dealing with microorganisms. Growing microorganisms in your home isnot recommended, it is much safer to grow them in a controlled laboratory.


· 1.5 packets of plain gelatin
· 1 cup of water
· 2 teaspoons of sugar
· 4 beef cubes
· 6 Foil muffin cups (these will act as petri plates)
· 6 sandwich bags


· Small pot
· Measuring cup and measuring spoons

Time & Cost

This project should take 30 minutes or less, including the time allotted for the mixture to cool in the foil cups. The total cost for the ingredients required was $8.17 and the recipe makes about 6 nutrient gelatin plates.

Potential Hazards

THE STOVE TOP AND PAN WILL BE HOT. Boiling water will be required in this project, so keep an eye on the pan to make sure the water does not boil over and scald your skin. When pouring the mixture into the foil cups, make sure you do not get it on your skin. Children should only complete this project in the presence of an adult.

Step 1: Gather and Mix the Ingredients

In the pot, mix:
· 4 beef cubes
· 1.5 envelopes of plain gelatin
· 1 cup of cold water
· 2 teaspoons of sugar

Step 2: Boil & Stir

After placing all the ingredients in the water, allow it to boil while constantly stirring the mixture.

Step 3: Cooling

Once the mixture is free of clumps, take the pot off of the stove and allow it to cool.

Step 4: Transfer to Foil Muffin Cups

After the mixture has cooled for about 5-10 minutes, pour the mixture into the 6 foil muffin cups.  Fill each of the cups about halfway full.

Step 5: Allow the Gelatin to Solidify

Once each cup has been filled, allow the mixture to harden. This process can be expedited by placing the cups in the refrigerator. Solidification should take around 20 minutes.

Step 6: Storing the Gelatin Plates

After the mixture has solidified, place each cup in an air tight sandwich bag. This prevents any external contaminants from coming into contact with the surface of the gelatin. If you plan on inoculating the plates, do so within a few days in order to obtain the best results.

Step 7: Troubleshooting

After completing the previous steps, the gelatin should appear dark red.

The mixture should not move too easily when the foil muffin tin is jostled. If the mixture fails to solidify after refrigeration that means there was not enough gelatin in the mixture. Add 2 envelopes of gelatin if this is the case. If the mixture is sticky, too much gelatin was added. In this case, use 1 envelope of gelatin instead of 2.

If there is anything unclear in these instructions please let me know, feedback is welcomed.



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    12 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I made it for a school science fair! Thanks luke, it helped alot!

    1 reply

    1 year ago on Step 7

    this was really helpful thank you


    1 year ago

    Can we use chicken cubes instead of beef cubes?


    1 year ago

    I have never purchase gelatin. Are they like yeast? The come in standard sizes?


    3 years ago

    Just a thought but maybe you could show a picture of what you grew. Gelatin works well but is consumed. Its is a good alternative to agar if you can't find it. However amazon.ca and many science companies will sell agar.

    Gia MarieS

    3 years ago

    is sugar necessary to add even if the gelatin is flavored?


    3 years ago on Step 5

    do we put the mixture back in the refrigerator after we put it in separate bags?


    5 years ago

    Yes i did, thank you.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What you have described are actually nutrient gelatin plates, not nutrient agar. The difference is that a great number of bacteria and fungi are able to produce the enzyme gelatinase which breaks down the gelatin ( a protein ) and liquefies the medium. This is unsatisfactory for the isolation of colonies, since they are no longer confined to a solid substrate but mixed throughout the liquid. Agar is a complex polysaccharide derived from seaweed, and the reason that agar is preferred for preparing solid media is that it is resistant to degradation by most microorganisms. Pectin ( another polysaccharide found in fruits ) is a better substitute than gelatin, although many fungi are able to digest it.