Monday, March 19, 2012

How to: Mess up Home-Made Fruit Juice Gummies

I saw a recipe for making your own gummies/fruit snacks using Jell-O and gelatin. Which got me all excited, since I have a ton of cute chocolate, candy, and ice molds, with no actual desire to mold chocolates. But I wasn't thrilled with not being able to control the amount of sugar, due to the Jell-O being pre-sweetened. Plus the whole artificial flavors and color (not that I'm totally opposed. I do use Kool-Aid powder to color and flavor Z's yogurt!) But if I'm making something from scratch, and I don't need it to be a particular color, why not make it without the dyes?
Then a friend of mine on Facebook posted a picture of her own home-made fruit snacks, using just juice and gelatin powder. So I pounced and demanded asked nicely for the recipe. I tried it and totally messed it up, so I'll give you the recipe as she told it to me, and tell you how I ruined it, so you can avoid my mistakes.

Home-Made Fruit Juice Gummies
2/3 cup fruit juice concentrate (thawed, if using frozen)
4 to 5 0.25oz packets gelatin powder
Step 1: Pour juice (and water if you wish to dilute flavor, or have a stronger concentrated juice) to small saucepan.
Step 2: Sprinkle gelatin powder over the juice and let sit for a few minutes.
Step 3: Put the pan over medium heat and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Step 4: Pour mixture into molds (pouring it into a measuring cup or other container with a spout first makes this step much easier!)
Step 5: Allow to set at least 20 minutes. You can speed this up a bit by putting them in the refrigerator.
Kids can help with choosing the mold(s) (if you have multiples to choose from, that is!) measuring and pouring the juice, and tearing open the packets of powder and adding them in. You can also have them stir before turning on the stove. If you're prepared to watch them like a hawk and have hands ready to slap aside any sloppy arms, you can let them help stir while the stove is on as well.
But the best part is "Official Taste Tester." We made a little science experiment out of it and I let her try one at various times within the 20-minutes-to-set window, so she got to see and feel first-hand how they changed over time.

Note: 5 packets of gelatin makes the gummies very chewy. For softer ones, use only 4 packets. Or make a double batch and try 9, to hedge your bets.
Using silicone ice cube trays works exceedingly well, but you'll want to gently pull the edges of each one away from the sides before attempting to remove them. Greasing the trays first avoids this effort, but then they taste like PAM.
I used a lingonberry syrup concentrate from IKEA. Frozen concentrate usually calls for 1 part frozen juice to 2 parts water, and this stuff called for 1 part juice to 6 parts water. So I added another 2/3cup water and planned for another 4 more packets of gelatin to compensate for the stronger concentration. And it gave me more to work with. Only I tasted it and it felt too strong. So I added another 2/3cup water. And set aside another 4 packets of gelatin. Except that I didn't take into account that the gelatin would dilute the flavor even more. So I messed it up and mine ended up tasting very weak. Ah well.
I also flinched, after adding the gelatin to the juice mixture. All I could see was a solid mass of undissolved powder, so I thought that my snacks would be all grainy. So I added more water and juice while it was heating up. Then changed my mind when I saw the gelatin was dissolving and clearing up, and added more gelatin to compensate. Which ended up being a mistake, since instead of blending in and dissolving, it just clumped right up. Doh!
And all the frantic mixing while it was heating up caused a bunch of frothing, which ended up setting as an opaque, bubbly layer on top of the mold (so on the bottoms of the shapes.)
But with my extensive candy molds I was able to make unicorn and ducky lollipops, flowers, train-shapes, zoo animal-shapes, even little trinket-box shaped snacks (with lids!)

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Using a fishie ice-cube tray from IKEA, I'll be able to make custom One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish snacks for preschool next year! And since I had so much extra mixture, I also made flowers, starfish, and hearts.
Luckily, my little Podling loves them. She doesn't care that they taste extremely weak. She wanted to eat the plain gelatin powder straight from the packet. (Bleah.) So the lumps of gelatin powder are a non-issue for her. And they have practically no sugar, since they are so diluted!
As far as I know you shouldn't need to refrigerate them, since most juices contain Vitamin C or citric acid, which are natural preservatives. Keep them in an air-tight container in a cool, dry area. But feel free to store them in the fridge if you plan on making large batches that will last longer.
I also used parchment paper to keep them from touching, so they wouldn't meld or stick together somehow, since I stacked them in layers in a container.



  1. You make me want to buy molds! These would make great party favors!

  2. Thank you for the awesome tutorial!!! I am definitely going to try this. My son LOVES trains!

  3. I will have to try these. I am allergic to corn and LOVE gummies, but store-bought gummies are FULL of corn syrup.

  4. Love your narrative... it sounds like me when I cook, always second guessing myself (and the recipe)... fortunately, my kids will also eat just about anything that seems like it should be a treat even if I've messed it up! I love all of the different shapes you made!!

  5. You are such an awesome mama, those looks amazing and so fun!! Will have to give it a whirl for my girls :)

  6. How much would I have to bribe you to make me gummy brains? A LOT of gummy brains?

  7. Wow. Concentrate is REALLY sweet. I used 1 cup concentrate and 2 T agar agar (vegan option). It set up very quickly and was a satisfactory texture, except for the fact that some of the agar agar didn't dissolve fully. Next time I'm going to try adding some water to dilute the sweetness and hopefully dissolve all the agar agar flakes. Thanks so much for the great idea!

  8. Cara, I was hoping I'd find a vega version! How did yours turn out using agar? I have powder though not flakes, any idea how much agar powder to add? Is 2T agar flakes the same as 2T agar powder?

  9. I found this recipe that uses applesauce with agar.

  10. Becky, I'm not really sure how agar agar powder varies in geling power from the flakes. Maybe there's a vegan blog out there that call tell you. But I CAN say that my second try worked really well. I used 1/2 cup fruit juice concentrate, 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 tablespoon agar agar flakes. Kids loved it. Good luck!

  11. That looks like a great first attempt!! My daughter goes NUTS over fruit snacks, so I'll have to try making some for her :)

  12. Ok, just to make sure i am doing this right..when you say 4 packets of gelatin, you mean jello packets right? And how do you choose the jello and a juice that compliment each other well? Like apple juice and strawberry jello? I'll have to experiemnt tonight i guess..yay! Thank you! :)

  13. MamaCass55 - nope. Plain gelatin. Knox makes some, and it's usually on the top shelf, either above the Jell-O or else with the jamming supplies.


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