Kids’ fruit snacks without all the sugar. These Yummy Gummies are sweetened with natural juice with no added sugar and are a really fun thing to make with the kids.
I’ve always been slightly dubious about the kids’ fruit snacks that are available at most supermarkets. My kids love them but one look at the ingredients on the back of the packet always leaves me a little apprehensive. My biggest concern is the amount of added sugar – the stuff that’s added on top of the sugar that occurs naturally in the fruit itself. Just because the words “real fruit” appear on the packet doesn’t make the contents healthy, in other words.
Recently, I’ve been looking at lots of recipes for natural “healthier” gummies; they all look great in the pictures, but do they actually taste any good?
So, after buying my own body weight in fruit and vegetables at the supermarket over the weekend, I set to cooking up some gummy batches. Firstly, believe me when I say these are a doddle to make. Really. This is also a really lovely activity to do with children. Preschoolers will love the colours and helping you cut out the shapes; older children can get experimental and choose their own juice combinations; mine were particularly fascinated by what gelatine does when it’s added to the juice – go try it. You can also play around with using different mini cookie cutters and silicon moulds. My kids have asked me to get some Gummy Bear-like moulds for next time – next stop Amazon.
I tried a number of juice combinations and also tried a vegetarian version of these gummies using Agar, with limited success (see Vegetarian Gummies). I also experimented using honey, sugar substitute Stevia and in some of these gummies no sweeteners at all. Some worked, some didn’t.
Here is the base recipe – the fruit and vegetables you use are completely up to you. In fact, go crazy. The only fruit that doesn’t work for these is pineapple; it contains an enzyme called bromelain which breaks down protein, which means your gummies won’t set.
I would really love to hear how you get on with these – what flavours worked best, favourite moulds, tips on using Agar – so please add your comments in the box at the bottom of the page or email me at email@example.com.
Yummy Gummies Base Recipe:
Time: 10 – 20 minutes to make (depending on whether you’re using making your own juice or using shop-bought); 2-3 hours to set in the fridge.
- 1½ cups of juice (freshly-squeezed or shop-bought).
- 4 tbsp plain gelatine – this ended up being about 3 sachets. If you are using Agar or a vegetarian setting agent, please follow the quantities and instructions on the packet.
- Your sugar alternative (if you are going to sweeten these). I used either honey or Stevia – gummies made with Stevia were by far the better tasting and my kids liked these the best. I’d start by adding a small amount and then tasting as you go along to determine how much you need.
- For blueberry gummies – ½ to 1 tsp vanilla extract works well. You could also experiment with other flavourings.
- Pour juice into a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatine over the surface and leave it for a few minutes until all the gelatine is absorbed. The mixture will start to look wrinkly (which my kids found hilarious). When all the gelatine is absorbed, give the mixture a quick whisk to mix together.
- Warm the mixture on a medium to low heat. The idea is to warm it through but not boil it. Test the mixture on your hand from time to time. If it’s still granular it’s not ready. You need the mixture to be smooth.
- Once ready this is the moment to add your honey/Stevia or other sugar alternative and any other flavourings i.e. vanilla essence.
- Pour into a pan. I used a 20cm x 20cm shallow square tin, which was perfect for this amount of mixture. You can also use silicon moulds instead of a pan. Pop in the fridge for around 2 to 3 hours until set.
- Once set, use a rounded-tipped knife to cut around the edge of the set mixture and then use a spatula to lift from underneath and remove from the pan. If set properly it will come away from the pan cleanly in one piece. rEither cut into chunks, or use small cookie cutters to make shapes.
- These will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Kids’ verdict: My nine-year old loved making these with me, both loved eating them. You’d have to eat a lot of these gummies to get your five-a-day – but at least it’s another way of sneaking some fruit and vegetables into the diet while steering away from the shop-bought varieties.
The fantastic thing about these gummies is you can use a whole bunch of different coloured fruit and vegetables to achieve the different shades – you really can eat a rainbow. Here are the juice combos I tried:
From left to right:
Purple: Beetroot (¼ of one beet), black grape, blueberry, red cabbage, honey (1 tspn), vanilla essence. Not really sure about this one. Next time I wouldn’t add the beetroot or the red cabbage and up the amount of blueberries. I would probably also try this with Stevia instead of the honey.
Orange: 2 large carrots, 2 large Navel oranges, honey. Again, not sure about this one, this was the least popular. I’ll go on experimenting with this one and maybe up the orange content or maybe use Mandarins, and use Stevia instead of honey.
Red: Strawberries, two tsps Stevia – this was by far the most popular of all the gummies.
Yellow: Pear, apple and Stevia – I tried this one with Agar and it was slightly wet. So I think I need to add more Agar to this than the instructions dictate next time. This one was delicious though – a hit with the kids and adults.
Green: Apple, green grape, kale, kiwi, juice from ½ a lemon. A surprise hit! This was really good. One of my children didn’t like it, but the other did (as did Mum). Interestingly I didn’t add any sweetener to this one at all. You’ll see in the photo that this gummy was slightly wet – more jelly than gummy. For this one I tried setting it in a deeper loaf tin – but the bottom half of it didn’t set. So next time I will use the 20cm x 20cm pan.
3-in-1 Tip: If you like making your own juice, double the quantity to make gummies at the same time. Then freeze any leftover juice in lolly moulds for delicious and healthy ice lollies.
For these I used Clearspring Agar from my local supermarket. Agar is a naturally freeze-dried Japanese sea vegetable. Two things: this will take some experimenting with. I tried this with banana and it didn’t work at all, maybe because of the consistency of the mixture which was thick. I then tried it with pear, which worked better but was quite a wet texture after setting, so I may have needed to use more flakes. Secondly, using this means boiling the juice to get the Agar to dissolve. What I’ve read suggests that boiling fruit/veg destroys the natural vitamins they contain; wouldn’t that defeat the object? I did see a vegetarian gelatine from Dr Oetker at the supermarket. I will try this next time I make a batch.