Gummy bears
Dessert, Vegetarian

How to make candy – Part 8: Gummy candy

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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.

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.

Jelly beans

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.

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.

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