Although you might not know it from the fact that I run a dessert blog, full of sugar, I am actually pretty health conscience in my everyday life My kids always have a homemade healthy lunch for school that doesn’t have any of the packaged treats they would love to have. I try to compensate by making their lunches especially cute, using colorful silicone liners in the containers and doing fun things like shaping their eggs or cheese using egg molds and cookie cutters, but if I am being perfectly honest I’m not sure they care about those things. (It makes me smile, however, so I keep doing it or packing lunches would be such a drudgery). When my kids were younger they didn’t notice what the other kids had in their lunches, but now that my oldest is in first grade he has started noticing that other kids have things in their lunches like chips or pop tarts. In an effort to keep my kids from feeling too deprived I try to pack a healthy special treat a few times a week, and so far that seems to be working great.
Since it is the beginning of January, and I know many people have made healthy eating New Year’s resolutions, it seemed somewhat unseemly to post an over the top decadent dessert. Thus it seemed like the perfect opportunity to share one of my kids favorite healthy treats, homemade fruit gummy candy. Homemade gummies are not only delicious but they are fun to make. I have molds in all different shapes and sizes and I let the kids pick which shape gummies they want for the week. These lego ones are currently their favorite.
I have been experimenting over the years with different versions of this candy and have learned that straight fruit juice, when set into gummies, just does not have enough flavor or sweetness. As a result they come out pretty bland. I have shifted to using fruit juice concentrates and the end result is delicious, while still pretty healthy (an average sized gummy has only 6 grams of sugar, almost 1.5 grams of protein and is only 30 calories). The gelatin that sets the gummies is good for gut health and also provides a little bit of protein. I have been playing around with a lot of different flavors but right now this apple cranberry is my favorite. I tend to like things on the sour side and these really have that sweet and sour flavor I love. Since I tend to be a bit extreme about how sour I like things I have put the proportion of apple to cranberry that my kids liked in the recipe, but if you want to make them they way I like simply increase the cranberry concentrate to 1/3 of a cup and decrease the apple to 2/3. When making gummy candy with gelatin it is important to measure the gelatin carefully. Perfect is the fine line between the texture of jello jigglers and so hard that it is unpleasantly chewy. Because of that I highly recommend using a scale to measure out the gelatin if you can. (I also recommend using a scale for everything else, it is just so much easier than measuring by volume).
Once you start making homemade fruit gummies it becomes addictive, because there are always new fun flavors to try. (I will be posting an apple cider gummy a little bit later.) To mix up the healthy lunch box treats try these energy bites as well, they are also very popular.
3/4 cup organic apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate (I use Lakewood Organics)
18 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons or 2 1/2 (1/4 oz) packets) gelatin
silicone mold for setting the gummies
If using a mold with lots of small details (like the lego mold) oil the mold with a very thin layer of oil. Otherwise just set the mold on a cookie sheet.
Place 1/4 cup of the apple juice concentrate and the cranberry concentrate in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice. Stir to combine. Let the gelatin sit for a few minutes to absorb the liquid. The juice should be thick.
Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of apple juice concentrate until very hot, or almost boiling. (This can be done in the microwave or in a pan on the stove). Pour the hot liquid into the bowl with the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is throughly dissolved. Pour the juice into the mold and refrigerate for at least two hours or until fully set.
If the mold was oiled carefully turn out the gummies. If not oiled place the bottom of the mold in hot water for a few seconds to loosen the gummies, then carefully turn them out.
The candy will keep for a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.