The gummy bear is a German invention. It was first produced in the year 1922 by the German company Haribo. However, it is not a healthy treat as some people might think. Industry-style gummy bears are based on sugar syrup rather than fruit juice that is thickened with gelatin.
How convenient that we can make healthy gummy bears at home. I have tons of apple juice from our apples. So today, I will introduce you to four recipes:
- Gummy bears made from fruit juice
- Industry-style gummy bears made from a sugar syrup
- Jelly beans
- Pureed fruit jelly
Gummy bears made with fruit juice
These gummy bears are easy to make at home. You don’t even need a candy thermometer. All you need to do is heat and mix together all the ingredients. But please be careful to not overheat the syrup as the gelatin loses its thickening power if it gets overheated.
It’s best to use a silicone gummy bear mold to give your jelly the desired shape. However, if you don’t have one you can also take industrially-produced gummy bears and press them into a starch bed. This will leave an indentation in which you can fill the candy mass. Your gummy bears will have a starch layer around them that way that you can remove by tumbling the gummy bears with a bit of vegetable oil.
The longer you leave your gummy bears to dry out before packaging, the more they will dry out and harden on the surface. Once you are happy with the texture of your gummy bears, you can package them in a plastic bag. Industrial manufacturers “age” their gummy bears for up to 3 days before packaging. If your gummy bears are very sticky after “aging”, then lightly coat them with sugar or vegetable oil before storing them in a plastic bag.
These gummy bears have a light apple flavor. If you want a more intense taste, you can use more juice or add apple aroma.
Apple Juice Gummy Bears (‘Apfelsaftgummis’)
- 18 grams gelatin powder
- 160 g water
- 160 g apple juice
- 1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon citric acid
- In a bowl, combine the gelatin and water and leave to bloom for at least 10 minutes.
- In a pot, combine the apple juice, sugar, and citric acid. Heat to about 70 °C (160 °F). Then take the pot off the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Fill the syrup into a gummy bear mold and place it in the fridge. Wait for the gummy bears to completely harden before unmolding them. Now you can leave them on your counter to dry out and firm up until you like their texture.
- Lightly coat the gummy bears with neutral vegetable oil before packaging them in a plastic bag.
Gummy bears made with flavoring extract
This recipe is much closer to the way the food industry produces gummy bears than the previous one. You can add whichever flavorings or colorings you like. As with all gummy bear recipes, you can leave the gummy bears to “age” until hardened to your liking.
- 30 g powdered gelatin
- 50 g water
- 80 g granulated sugar
- 1/8 cup water
- 100 g inverted sugar
- a few drops of food flavoring of your choice
- about 5 g malic acid, more or less to taste
- a few drops of food coloring of your choice
- In a small pot, combine the gelatin and 50 g of water. Leave to bloom for at least 10 minutes.
- In another pot, combine the granulated sugar with about 1/8 cup of water. Cook the syrup to 115 °C (240 °F) and immediately take it off the heat.
- Gently heat your other pot containing the bloomed gelatin until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Whisk in the inverted sugar and the syrup and continue whisking until all the sugar is completely dissolved. Keep the mixture warm but don’t let it come to a boil. Once all the sugar is dissolved, take the pot off the heat. Then season the gummy bear syrup to taste with food flavoring and malic acid. Add a few drops of food coloring of your choice.
- Fill the syrup in a gummy bear mold and then put the gummy bears in the fridge and wait for them to harden before unmolding them. After unmolding, you can leave the gummy bears on your counter to dry out for several days before coating them with neutral vegetable oil or sugar and packaging them in a plastic bag.
The jelly beans from the supermarket contain no gelatin but are based on a starch gel. To get the right texture, many producers use modified starch. And because this ingredient is very uncommon in home cooking, the recipe I’m giving you here is for jelly beans based on gelatin.
Making jelly beans is quite a process because you need to coat them with a sugar glaze. However, it’s a fun project to try to come up with your own flavor variations. Chose whatever flavoring extract or coloring you like.
There’s a wonderful video on how jelly beans are made by Discovery UK. If you watch it carefully, you will notice a mistake in it: They claim that the syrup for jelly beans gets cooked to 175 °C (347 °F). This is not possible in an open batch cooker. It seems like they confused Fahrenheit with Celsius. 175 °F are 80 °C which is far more realistic. That’s the temperature you need to gelatinize the starch they add to the tank. Sugar that is heated to 175 °C (347 °F) is already a dark caramel.
Americans and their love for weird units – a thing that is hard to grasp for anyone outside of North America. Certainly, the British camera team had issues communicating with the American jelly bean producer. 175 degrees is not the same for an American company and a European camera team.
For the jelly:
- 500 g granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
- 500 g water
- 1 cup clear fruit juice of your choice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cornstarch, for dusting
For the shell:
- 200 granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon flavoring extract of your choice
- a few drops of food coloring of your choice
Prepare the jelly:
- In a pan, combine the sugar, gelatin, and water. Gently cook the syrup to 110 °C (230 °F). Immediately take the syrup off the heat and stir in the fruit juice and salt. Let the syrup cool down to about 50 °C (120 °C) before filling it into a silicon jelly bean mod. Wait for the jelly beans to harden, about 4-6 hours.
- Unmold the jelly beans and sprinkle them with cornstarch to make them nonstick. Leave them to dry on a piece of parchment paper for several hours or overnight. Once dried, transfer the jelly beans to a colander and shake them until all the excess cornstarch is brushed off.
Prepare the shell and coat the jelly beans:
- In a large jar or a small pot, combine the sugar and water. Add the flavoring extract and food coloring and mix well.
- Add the jelly beans to the mixture. Seal the jar or pot with a lid and continuously rotate it and swirl the jelly beans in a circular motion for about 15-20 minutes or until well-coated. Try to keep your movements as steady as possible for an even coating.
- Dump the jelly beans in a colander to drain off any excess liquid. Place the jelly beans on a parchment-lined baking sheet without letting them touch each other and place them in the freezer for 3-4 hours or until completely dry and hardened. In between, you can rotate the jelly beans once to get an even drying result.
- Store the jelly beans in a jar or plastic bag.
Pureed fruit jellies
These mango jellies are a tasty and healthy afternoon snack. They contain no added sugar, are vegan, and are super easy to make.
The gelling agent for mango jelly is agar-agar. I’m not the biggest fan of agar-agar. I would choose gelatin over agar-agar every day. Gelatin melts in your mouth whereas agar-agar does not. If you see a vegan claiming that agar-agar gummies taste just like gelatine gummies, he or she is lying to you.
The problem with mango and other exotic fruits like for example kiwi, pineapple, and papaya is that they contain enzymes that can destroy the gelatin network. That’s why it’s better to use agar-agar for this application.
- 1 mango, peeled and cut into pieces
- lemon juice, to taste
- 1 tablespoon agar-agar
- In a blender, puree the mango until smooth and season with lemon juice to taste.
- In a pot, combine the mango puree and agar-agar. Heat to a light boil and leave the puree to simmer for about 3 minutes. Take a spoon of your puree and put it on a cold plate. If it doesn’t jell, dissolve some more agar-agar in water and stir it into your hot puree.
- Fill the puree in a silicon mold or parchment-lined baking pan. Then transfer it into the fridge and wait for it to completely harden. Now you can unmold the jelly and cut it into bite-sized pieces.