I know that I let things get out of hand because my skin still has a few hardened streaks of gelatin that didn’t wash off in the shower. Is making your own gummy bears from scratch kind of fun? Sure. Yeah. But be prepared to confront a darkness you never realized was hiding dormant inside of you.
All the recipes for every flavor of gummy I made are at the end of this post. If you’ve ever looked up a recipe on the internet, you know the person who made the thing gets to tell a long, rambling, incoherent story about their “journey” in making the thing. SO JUST LET ME HAVE THIS, OK?
I had the epiphany that you can make a gummy bear that tastes like ANYTHING YOU WANT. You just add gelatin. My mind was on fire with possibilities. Any drink can be a gummy bear. Any cocktail can be a gummy bear. Anything you can blend in a blender can be a gummy bear. Rum & coke gummy bear. Red wine gummy bear. Almond milk gummy bear. The world of gummy bears is almost limitless and once you feel that power, you will never be the same again.
Gelatin is like having a super power. You can use it for good or evil. You can solidify anything you want. But it’s dangerous. Just look at the jello mold atrocities of the ‘50s and ‘60s. You become so obsessed with the things you CAN gel-ify that you don’t stop to question whether or not you SHOULD.
I wanted to make some classic fruit flavors like strawberry or blueberry. But what about a LaCroix gummy bear? What about a tomato juice gummy bear? What about bloody Mary? Or bone broth? What about a clam juice gummy bear??? SAVORY GUMMY BEARS. I was drunk on gummy flavor potential.
The process is simple—you mix up your liquid and gelatin, put it in the molds, and let it set in the fridge—but it can go wrong. My first batch was a bad batch of gummy failure. I didn’t use enough gelatin. Because I was scared. If you use too much gelatin, the texture gets hard and weird. I didn’t want the bears to taste like rock-hard jello. I only used one packet of gelatin, but it made the bears soft, weak, and slimy. No one ever said, “I like gummy bears but I wish they were wetter.” I had to crank up the gelatin. Crank it way up. There was no turning back.
I used whiskey, maraschino cherry syrup, bitters, and I blasted that mixture with three packets of gelatin. And it actually worked. They looked good and the whiskey made them taste like an episode of Mad Men. I’m sure this gummy bear is something Don Draper would spit into the trash but I thought it tasted pretty good.
You have to delicately remove each one from their silicone body cast. You must carefully birth each little bear with your own fingers. Each mold contains about 50 bears. So it takes a long time. Taking little bodies out of a mold felt like being in a futuristic lab in a post-apocalyptic scenario, stretching science to its limit to repopulate the earth with tiny bears. Are these bears my new friends? My family? Or…my army? What had I done? (Create my own bear universe, like a god, obviously.)
The texture is definitely different from that of a store-bought gummy bear. When people tried them, some found the texture to be upsetting or like “off-brand fruit snacks.” It’s hard for me to find another word to describe the taste beyond “interesting.” They don’t taste bad. They’re maybe even kind of good?
I brought them into work and was shocked by how many people willingly ate something described as a “homemade gummy bear” without even questioning it. I guess that demonstrates how professional they can look with a mold. But here’s some life advice, if someone you don’t know well offers you a “homemade gummy bear,” I think you should say “no thank you.” (Rosé was probably the most well-received flavor out of the 12 options.)
Who should make homemade gummy bears? Probably no one. But I would recommend them if you have an unusual flavor you want to try (I’m still kicking myself for not making a turmeric ginger!) or if you want to make a slightly healthier candy alternative. But mostly, you should make your own gummy bears if you want to feel powerful, like the laws of candy don’t apply to you, and you desire hundreds of tiny, edible friends.
1 cup strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 packets of gelatin (3/4 ounce)
Two 50-bear gummy bear molds with dropper
Fine mesh strainer
Blend strawberries in a blender. Strain the blended strawberries through a mesh strainer to remove seeds. Add lemon juice and sugar to the strained strawberry mixture. Pour half of the mixture into a small saucepan and heat until simmering. Mix gelatin into the remaining half of the mixture. Add simmering liquid to the gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Fill the gummy bear molds with the liquid using the dropper and refrigerate for two hours or until set. Remove the bears from the molds. Makes about 100 bears.