Just in time for Easter, here’s a recipe for natural candy you can feel good about feeding your kids. Traditional recipes based on the Haribo-style gummy bears are laden with corn syrup and use Jell-O, in its artificial glory, as the base. With just a couple modifications, however, you can create all-natural gummy candy that tastes and looks as good as the real thing and contains health-promoting ingredients.
Plain, unflavored gelatin is protein‐rich, not only giving you healthy hair, nails and skin, but also helping to heal digestive disorders and increase your metabolism. Be sure to get the kind that comes from grassfed cattle, which is available at most health-food stores. Great Lakes is the brand I use. While you’re at the store, pick up some expeller-pressed juice or organic citrus to squeeze yourself. Local honey is what makes these babies refined sugar-free, plus you get the bonus of all those vitamins, enzymes, and phytonutrients that make honey so nutritious!
It’s easier said than done to find gummy bear molds. If you want to make these this week, you best get to ordering your molds now. Thank god for Prime 2-day shipping!
Since our base is unflavored gelatin, I highly recommend ordering some all-natural flavor extracts, like this one from LorAnn. I chose the pomegranate, orange and lemon flavors. I truly don’t think this ingredient is optional if you want your natural gummies to taste really awesome. My experiments with leaving out the extract and subbing citrus zest instead left no room for doubt. Hands down, the gummies with the drops of extract added to the recipe were far superior. Plus the zest made the gummies slightly bitter, which might not be ideal for a child’s palette.
Citric acid powder, the ingredient that gives candy that coveted Sour Patch tang, contributes a depth of flavor (sweet and tart, as opposed to just sweet). While the gummies can be made without this ingredient, I highly recommend you include it.
One last ingredient, also non-essential, is non‐toxic, veggie-based food coloring. Leaving it out won’t affect flavor, the colors will simply be more muted and look less like their store-bought counterparts. The pomegranate mustaches in my images, for example, are rich in color without the need for any additional coloring.
All-Natural Gummy Candy (Refined-Sugar Free)
This all-natural, sugar-free candy is such a treat because of how close it comes to the real thing. And it really does get “gummy bear texture” after a couple of days…if you can possibly wait that long!
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 10 min
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Candy
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Dessert
For each flavor, you will need:
3 packets (approx. 2.5 tbsp) grass-fed gelatin
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp cold, cold-pressed or fresh-squeezed fruit juice
2 tbsp local honey
All-natural cooking spray
All‐natural confectioner’s flavorings
¼-½ tsp citric acid (see note)
All-natural food coloring
1. Whisk juice, honey, and gelatin until there are no lumps. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until everything is melted, about 3 minutes. Do not boil.
2. Add 1/4 tsp citric acid, approximately 4 drops flavoring, and optional food coloring, Stir to combine. Spray candy molds with natural cooking spray. Slowly pour gelatin mixture into molds.
3. Freeze for 20 minutes.
4. Unmold gummies. At this point they can be eaten, or for that characteristic gummy bear chew, stand gummies upright for 2 days. If you’re insanely patient, you can lay them flat for another day. The longer they air dry the chewier they will be.
5. Because of the organic ingredients, you’ll want to store these in the fridge after they dry out for up to two weeks. Toss with a pinch of cornstarch if they start to get sticky.
Pomegranate and lemon juice are inherently more sour than orange juice. For that reason, I increased the amount of citric acid from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp in the orange batch.
Do you have a favorite Easter candy that you’d love to see made over into a healthy version? Respond in the comments and I’ll add it to my To Do list of culinary wizardry.
For a cocktail you can make with local honey that may or may not have superpowers, check out Honey in Your Cocktail May Prevent a Hangover.