Tools for the Job
You really only need a few key tools for making homemade gummy bears, including measuring cups and a saucepan. The most important tool you need is a mold. Though some companies make molds that are roughly the same size and shape as those candies you buy in stores, you'll also find molds that let you make gummy animals of all shapes and sizes. Keep in mind that it may take twice as long or longer for larger molds to finish drying. If you have a hard time finding a gummy bear mold, use a candy mold designed for chocolate. Silicone molds are usually best because the candies pop right out, but you can also use molds made of plastic or metal.
The Classic Gummy Bear Recipe
The classic gummy bear recipe only requires three ingredients: water, unflavored gelatin and flavored gelatin. You can use any flavor that you would like, but you will need to completely clean your saucepan and mold before making a second flavor. Cleaning your tools prevents the older flavor from combining with the new flavor.
Place your saucepan directly on the stove, add ½ cup cold water and turn the heat to low. Add two tablespoons of unflavored gelatin and one full package of flavored gelatin to the water. Stir over low heat with a plastic spatula or a wood spoon. Keep mixing until all the gelatin dissolves into the water and there are no sugar crystals on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture into a small measuring cup or a pitcher.
Making the Gummy Bears
You can make the gummy bears in just a few seconds after pouring the mixture into a cup or pitcher. Place your molds on a flat surface, and slowly pour the mixture into each space on the mold until it reaches just below the top edge. Give the molds a small shake to ensure the mixture settles to the bottom. Place the bears in the refrigerator or your freezer for 10 minutes or until the mixture sets. You can then remove your finished bears and enjoy your snack.
Storing the Leftovers
Commercially produced gummy bears have a number of chemicals and other ingredients that keep the bears fresh for days after opening a package, but homemade gummy bears lack those ingredients. The best way to store any leftovers you have on hand is in the refrigerator. Toss the gummy bears in a plastic sandwich bag or in a plastic container with an airtight lid and store in your refrigerator. If you find that the candies stick together, sprinkle a small amount of powdered sugar or cornstarch over the bears and shake before storing.
What About Vegetarians?
Never serve vegetarians homemade gummy bears without first informing them that gelatin is a primary ingredient. Gelatin contains some animal byproducts that many vegetarians will not eat. If you want to make the sweet treat for those who do not eat meat, you can use agar powder. Agar powder is a type of natural thickener made from plants that is safe for vegetarians. Use the agar powder in place of the flavored and unflavored gelatin. You can then use natural ingredients for flavoring and coloring the gummy bears.
What If You Don't Have Molds?
Gummy bears are gummy bears because the finished candies look just like adorable little bears. If you do not have any molds on hand or cannot find animal molds, you can still make gummy candies. All you need is a piece of parchment paper. Print off a picture of a gummy bear you find online, trace the shape onto your parchment paper and repeat the process until you cover the paper with small bears. Leave at least one inch in between each to prevent the bears from spreading together.
Instead of using a measuring cup, pour the slightly cooled liquid into a plastic bag and snip off one of the corners with kitchen shears. Hold the bag in one hand and slowly squeeze until the mixture comes out. Pipe around the edges of each bear before filling in the centers with more of the liquid. This method will leave you with flatter bears that still taste great.
Making Gummy Worms
Turn this same recipe into gummy worms that you and your kids will love. After removing the mixture from the heat, let it cool for no more than five minutes before pouring into a plastic bag and cutting off one corner of the bag. If you let the mixture cool for longer, it will solidify in the pan, but if you don't wait long enough, it may melt your bag. You can also use a pastry bag for this step.
Squeeze the top of the bag down to remove any air bubbles and force the mixture into the corner. Using a steady hand, slowly pipe the mixture out into worm shapes on a piece of clean parchment paper. You can draw the worms on the paper first or freehand the worms. Transfer the candies to the refrigerator or freezer until set. If you love the sugary gummy worms that you see in stores, remove the candies after five minutes. The worms should feel set but still slightly wiggly. Pour granulated sugar in a small bowl. Carefully roll the worms in the mixture before placing back on the paper and cooling until completely set.
Making Sour Gummy Candies
Do you love sour gummy bears and wonder how you can make similar candies at home? With citric acid, which is available in most grocery stores, making sour gummy candies is easy. Once you finish pouring the mixture in a mold or placing on parchment paper, lightly dust the tops with a little of the citric acid before cooling. The acid gives the candy that great punch that you want.
Using Natural Flavors
One of the best reasons to make gummy bears like Sweet Pete's makes them is you know your candies will be gluten free and all natural. Instead of using flavored gelatin, increase the amount of unflavored gelatin by one tablespoon and add ½ cup of orange juice and ½ cup of lemon juice. If you prefer berry flavored gummy bears, use ½ to 2/3 cup pureed berries and two tablespoons of either powdered sugar or honey. With this simple gummy bear recipe, you can mix and match all your favorite flavorings to create your own customized gummy bears that taste better and are better for you than the candies you buy in the store.