If you love sour candy, this homemade gummy bear recipe made with real fruit is for you! Follow our step-by-step instructions for how to make gummy bears by swapping out toxic ingredients like artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup for healthy, unrefined sweeteners. This easy gummy bear recipe is made with digestion-friendly gelatin, too!
UPDATE: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated to reflect new information and tips.
This post is sponsored by Vital Proteins. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Confession: I'm addicted to sour gummy candy.
It's always been my candy indulgence of choice–I just can't get enough!
I tend to stock up on SmartSweets and Torie & Howard Organic Chewie Fruities at Thrive Market, as they're made with organic fair-trade cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They're also free of all artificial colors and flavors and–true to their name–really are Smart!
But then one day I had a thought: what if I could make my own with REAL fruit?!
The idea was captivating as–given my addiction–it seemed like I should try to indulge in a healthier, real food version instead of the juice concentrates, dextrose and ‘natural flavors' present even in the organic Wholesome brand.
Enter: these incredibly delicious homemade gummy bear sour candies with real fruit!
You will be shocked how easy these are to make, not to mention fun and–let's be honest–completely adorable, right?!
How to Make Real Fruit Gummy Bears at Home
Here's the quick list of what you'll need to buy before getting started:
- the main ingredient: real fruit! I used organic fruit and found that berry flavors work best, like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
- your choice of sour liquid–I prefer a sweet-sour flavor like Meyer lemon juice, blood orange juice or pink grapefruit juice, plus the zest
- honey (ideally local, raw and/or Manuka)
- food grade, non-GMO fruit citric acid
There are a ton of flavor combinations you can try out here! I love the combo of strawberries and raspberries with grapefruit juice, or blueberries and blackberries with lemon juice. But truly this is not a hard-and-fast recipe…play around with the combos and make it your own!
Once you have everything you need, you're going to mix the fruit and sour liquid in a high speed blender, like the amazing Vitamix, with honey (ideally local, raw and/or Manuka) and citric acid. While that may sound alarming, citric acid is actually a natural organic acid that's found primarily in citrus fruits, and is needed to help preserve the gummies and add that classic sour taste.
Important: be sure to buy a food grade, non-GMO fruit citric acid like this one on Amazon.
Simmer this fruity mixture on the stovetop and then add a super key ingredient, Vital Proteins gelatin. Without gelatin, the gummies won't set, as gelatin acts a natural adhesive, and makes the gummies firm and chewy.
What is gelatin exactly?
It's a protein made out of collagen often used in jellies, custards and candies (if you've ever had jell-o, you've had gelatin!). It comes from animal parts that provide us with important amino acids, in turn helping us form strong cartilage and connective tissues that supports our body's elasticity. (source)
Wait, so is collagen the same as gelatin?
Yes and no. This is kind of tricky–see, gelatin is made from collagen. When collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin. BUT collagen peptides are actually broken down gelatin proteins.
Think of it like this–you start with animal bones, which are loaded with collagen. When you simmer those bones in water, you get bone broth, which contains gelatin because the cooking process has broken down the collagen.
But then, when you take the gelatin and use an enzymatic process to break that down, you get collagen peptides. I know that probably sounded like I was talking in circles, but here’s what you need to know: they’re made from the same stuff, just in different forms.
AND, most importantly, what this means for you: gelatin will “gel” in cold liquids, collagen peptides won’t. So you can mix collagen peptides into both cold and hot liquids and they won’t firm up, but if you add gelatin to cool liquids, they will (hence how you get “jello”).
In fact, gelatin (like collagen) offers CRAZY COOL benefits for skin, hair, nails, weight loss, and is often used to promote digestive health.
But: not all gelatin is created equal! Vital Proteins is by far my favorite brand of gelatin, as it's made from pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine hides. It's also gluten free, Non-GMO, sugar free, paleo friendly and Whole30 approved.
Another cool benefit of the gelatin is that the protein boost gives these gummies extra nutritional value. Plus, this recipe is full of vitamin C from all the fruit which is not only great for your immune system, but also supports collagen building and the maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth–so the gelatin and Vitamin C really go hand in hand! (source)
Lastly, all you have to do is pour the mixture into silicone molds of your choosing, like this cute, BPA-free multipack of bears, hearts, stars and shells. You can also use these molds to make homemade chocolates and other candies.
Let them sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours to firm up, and then simply top them with an organic sugar and citric acid topping for that sweet and sour coating we all love (this part is optional, if you'd rather just have plain gummy bears). Either way, this recipe is low in sugar, and especially if you leave off the topping, these gummies are completely sweetened just with real fruit and honey–how cool is that?!
Note: After they've firmed in the fridge, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature, otherwise they will begin to gel together into a gooey mess.
This recipe is one that you and your whole family (and all of your kids' friends!) are sure to love.
If you try this recipe for Homemade Gummy Bear Recipe with Real Fruit, be sure to share a photo and tag me @rootandrevel on social media–I’d LOVE to see how it turned out for you!
Gummy Bear Recipe with Real Fruit
- high speed blender
- silicone mold
For the Gummies:
- 1 cup organic fruit (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.)
- 1/3 cup Meyer lemon, blood orange or pink grapefruit juice + zest (I like the combo of Strawberry/Raspberry Grapefruit and Blueberry/Blackberry Lemon)
- 1/2 tsp citric acid
- 1/2 cup water divided
- 3 Tbsp grass-fed, unflavored Vital Proteins gelatin
- 2 Tbsp honey ideally local, raw or Manuka
For the Sour Topping (Optional):
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1 Tbsp citric acid
- In a high-speed blender, combine fruit, citrus juice, honey, citric acid and water. Puree until smooth.
- Add mixture to a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk. When it comes to a simmer, gradually whisk in the gelatin, stirring constantly, until dissolved. Be careful to add the gelatin very slowly, rather than all at once. Bring to a simmer.
- Take gelatin mixture off the heat and pour into a measuring bowl, using a sieve to remove any gelatin or fruit bits. Remove any bubbles with a spoon.
- Pour mixture into a silicone mold and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and citric acid in a separate bowl. Carefully pop gummies out of mold, and sprinkle with sour sugar mixture. Serve and enjoy!
*Note: nutrition panel does not include citric acid and optional sugar topping.