Homemade Gummy Bears with No Added Sugar PLUS 10 Tips for Making Them at Home
They are the kind of lollies you won’t mind your kids having.Homemade Gummy Bears in 4 whole food flavours: tasty, healthy and set in minutes! PLUS 10 tips for making jellies at home and a vegan version as well!
If you walked into our kitchen the weekend before last, you might have found yourself in the middle of a lolly making frenzy. The countertops were covered in strawberry, mango and raspberry splotches – some set, some smudged and others just sitting pretty.
Excitement was brewing as the mixtures of whole fruit and gelatin warmed on the stove – no sugar in sight! Spoons and whisks exchanged hands at the right moments, gummy shaped moulds were filled with flavourful mixtures and great precision. We had four carefully picked flavours on the go at any one time.
For more low sugar living inspiration check out my debut cookbook, The Wholesome Cook, featuring 180 refined sugar-free recipes all with gluten-free options. Plus detailed additive-free shopping guides, wholefood kitchen tips and my take on sugar, fat, gluten and legumes, soy and dairy.
Did you know that gelatin is a fantastic source of protein, promotes a healthy thyroid function, is great for joint-health, collagen production and gut healing? It is recommended for people nursing broken bones, wounds and sprains. It is also said to suppress tumor growth and liver health (source – and there’s more). I’m surprised it hasn’t re-earnt its stripes as a superfood yet. In testing the recipe, we use either the Great Lakes grass-fed gelatin powder or Vital Proteins grass-fed collagen powder – more on that in the tips. For a vegan option see notes below.
Sneaky me, to healthy things up a bit further, decided to get adventurous and make jellies using almond milk and vanilla powder mixed in with Inner Health Plus dairy-free probiotics for gut health. And, my oh my, were they something else! I give you some pointers in the tips below on how not to over-heat the probiotic powder jellies.
We churned out about 6 cups of jellies that day. Mixed flavours and densities, because we wanted to be thorough so that you could be better informed when making your own.
10 Tips for making Gummy Bears at home:
1. We used both gelatin sheets and powder. The sheets were slightly easier to melt evenly, but they come in various sizes and even strengths so measuring them can get tricky. In the end we stuck with this grass-fed gelatin powder or this grass-fed gelatin powder, being the most natural gelatin source.
2. We also tried a few different ratios of gelatin to set them and found that 3 tablespoons of gelatin per cup renders the best result. Soft and chewy, but not as temperature sensitive as the 2 tablespoon mixture, nor was it as hard as the 4 tablespoon one. See notes below for a vegan version.
3. Non-acidic fruit is best for jelly making, otherwise jelly may not set (pineapple and kiwi fruit tend to be most problematic).
4. For best results puree room-temperature fruit using a stick blender. Allow frozen fruit puree to come to room temperature also. You can strain the seeds away (from berries) if you like, but we quite like the added texture.
5. Things you can add to the jellies are probiotic, protein or green powders, maca, cacao, mesquite, bee pollen, vitamins, fish oil. If adding probiotics, remember that they are heat-sensitive. Add these to slightly cooled liquid only or divide the liquid in half and heat only half of the content. This will also help preserve heat-sensitive vitamins into the gummy shapes.
6. Use a silicone mould. We used this Homemade Gummy kit which comes with four moulds: two gummy bear, one gummy snake and one gummy fish. They are fantastic! So easy to peel off and the container they sit in holds ice for faster cooling and setting. Found on eBay with Aussie shipping – you will need to get a converter though, it comes with a US plug.For other fun-shaped moulds check out eBay. Search for ‘silicone jelly mould’ and you’ll even find Lego and Star Wars inspired shapes.
7. To shorten the setting time, place silicone moulds in the fridge over a tray filled with ice.
8. Add Natvia for sweetness. About 1 tablespoon per cup should be fine, but bare in mind that some of the sweetness does disappear once the jellies are set.
9. Vanilla bean powder (I used Honest to Goodness brand) is great for flavouring strawberry or milk jellies. It may seem expensive but the powder is very flavourful so only a little, around 1/4 teaspoon, is needed to add the luxurious vanilla aroma to 1 cupof jelly mix. Not to mention the signature black specs.
10. Milky layers or whole gummy shapes can be achieved using any type of milk really. My personal preference is for organic cow’s or homemade almond milk (Aussie brand Pure Harvest make a great organic almond milk that contains nothing but filtered water, organic almonds and organic rice syrup), they also have oat and rice milk which are great for this too).
Vegan Gummy Bears
Agar agar powder is the most common substitute for gelatin in vegetarian and vegan jelly-making. To make Vegan Gummy Bears, add 3 tablespoons agar agar powder to 1 cup liquid. Unlike gelatin, agar mixture should be brought to a boil to set, so if you are working with heat-sensitive ingredients like probiotics or vitamins, perhaps only boil half the liquid.
One of the advantages of agar, apart from being plant-based, is the fact that it does not melt when stored out of the fridge which might make for better lunchbox treats.
Homemade Gummy Bears are a quick to make and a healthy substitute for store-bought lollies. They don’t have the same stretch which comes from the sugar in regular jellies, but are fun to make and squishy enough for everyone to enjoy them.
The fruity gummy shapes were deemed the best by the kids. Liana’s favourite was the strawberry mango duo, while I preferred the slightly more sour raspberry. My all time favourite though was the airy vanilla almond milk jelly with the added benefit of dairy-free probiotics. Creamy, dreamy and delectable.
- For a Fruity Version:
- ½ cup pureed fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or mango)
- ½ cup liquid (filtered water, coconut water or milk of your choice)
- 1-2 tablespoons natvia (stevia granules), or honey if you prefer
- 3 tablespoons gelatin powder (I used grass-fed gelatin)
- 1 cup milk of your choice (cow's, rice, oat or almond - we used Pure Harvest Organic Almond Milk)
- 3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
- 1 tablespoon natvia (granulated stevia), honey or sugar if you prefer
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder
- 2 capsules dairy-free probiotics powder (such as Inner Health Plus)
- extra probiotic powder, protein powder, vanilla powder, green powder, bee pollen, maca, fish oil, etc
- Place pureed fruit into a beaker for easy pouring into the moulds.
- In a small saucepan whisk liquid with gelatin over low heat, until dissolved. It is not recommended for the mixture to boil.
- Pour the gelatin liquid into the pureed fruit and whisk to prevent the gelatin from setting in clumps. Add anything else you might like and whisk to incorporate.
- Pour the mixture into moulds and place in the fridge for 15 or so minutes to set (if you place the moulds on top of an ice-filled tray, jellies will set quicker).
- Remove from moulds and store in the fridge in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks.
- Heat ½ cup milk and gelatin in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Whisk in remaining milk, natvia, vanilla powder and probiotic mixture.
- Pour into moulds and place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes or so.
- Remove from moulds and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.