Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks, Take 2 (No Added Sugar)

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I’ve been sitting on this post for a very long time, wondering when the best time to actually publish it was. See, the original version of these gummy fruits were a huge success. That is to say, the post itself was a huge success, ranking as my second most popular post of all time. This took me by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, my original Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks were very tasty, they just weren’t quite what I had in mind. I wanted something like the little chewy fruit snacks you can get at Trader Joe’s or from Annie’s, the kind with no added sugar. My first attempt was with gelatin and I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to get me the results I wanted. They were delicious, but jelly-ish and required refrigeration to keep from melting into fruity goo. So I set about trying to make a more “shelf-stable” gummy fruit. And I think I managed that feat. But the original post was so darn popular, I didn’t want to mess with its mojo, so to speak.

But there were quite a few people on Twitter and my blog who expressed interest in the improved version, so I finally decided to bite the bullet and post it. A lot of the comments on my original post confirmed for me exactly what I was thinking of using in my second experiment…Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Unlike most pectin products, this one can be made with little to no sugar, as it relies on calcium to jell properly. I have used it before in sugar free jams, and in fact, I accidentally over-jelled some jam this summer, which is what made me realize it would be perfect for my gummy fruits. And since several readers suggested the exact same thing, I knew I was on the right track.

I studied the insert that comes in the Pomona’s package, trying to decide which approach to take. They have detailed instructions for low sugar, no sugar, and alternative sweeteners. In the end, I decided to follow the instructions for the “All Fruit” jams and jellies, but with a higher pectin-to-fruit ratio to get things to solidify a little more. But I knew I needed to still do more to it, to make them drier and chewier, and more shelf-stable. So after the mixture had been spread in the pan and cooled, I popped it in the oven at low heat for a few hours, to dry it out. At first, I thought I had erred, as it began to liquify and un-jell. But I kept it in for a while to see what would happen. As it began to lose moisture, it shrunk in height and became more like what I had in mind. A cross between fruit leather and fruit gummies, much more like the storebought brands my kids love so much.


The Results:
I won’t say I totally nailed it, but I think I came close. The flavour was much like the original version, but with a drier, chewier texture. They remained a bit “wet” on the bottom, but I didn’t want to keep drying them, for fear of turning them simply into fruit leather. But they were definitely more shelf-stable. I kept the pan in the fridge, but I could put them into my kids’ lunch boxes without needing a cold pack to keep them cool. They didn’t melt away into good, they stayed firm and in their original shapes. And my kids enjoyed them, which is the most important measure of success in these things. They aren’t as pretty as the original version, all plump and fruity, but for my purposes, they are more functional. Function over form, in this case!

Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks, V. 2.0

*These instructions assume you have read the Pomona’s Universal Pectin insert and have made up the jar of calcium water accordingly.

1 1/2 cup mixed berries
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup fruit juice
2 tsp Pomona calcium water
3 tsp Pomona pectin powder

Combine mixed berries and applesauce in a medium saucepan. Add calcium water to pan and stir well.

In a separate pan, bring juice to a boil. Pour hot juice into a blender or food processor and vent the lid. Add pectin powder and blend 1 to 2 minutes, or until all powder is dissolved.

Bring the berry/applesauce mixture to a boil. Add the juice/pectin mixture and cook 1 minute, stirring continuously. Return to a boil, then remove from heat.

Spread mixture in a glass or ceramic 7 x 11 inch pan and let cool.

Preheat oven to 170F. Bake fruit mixture for 3 hours, or until top is dry and firm to the touch.

Let cool and cut into squares or cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

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Comments

  1. says

    Love how you continued to experiment to get these gummy fruit snacks right, reminds me of chem lab ;) The best test is whether your kids like it or not, so sounds like you have pretty much nailed it!

  2. says

    Those are beautiful. I love the color you got from the berry combination. I think you've done a fantastic job with try number two and would eat a batch of those as a test if you ever needed. Really, I would.

  3. gerryspeirs says

    Oh I like this idea! They sure do look like they would hold up better than the last ones you made, what kind of fruit juice did you use and where would I be likely to get the calcium water and the pectin, online?
    Thanks…

  4. says

    I still remember your first post with the gummies and I swore I was going to make the recipe. Now I really am going to make this one! I'll probably have to order this kind of pectin online, but it will be totally worth it. My kids go through gummy snack like they are going out of style. Thanks for deciding to post!!!!

  5. says

    Of course, you figured it out!!! My boys (24 and 18) STILL eat fruit snacks, so no wonder your post went viral! And this one will, too!!! You are a marvel! Truly.

  6. says

    You are so inventive and experimental! I LOVE Pomona's; it is the only pectin I use for exactly the reason you mentioned. When I've picked berries that could not taste better, that is what I want to taste in my jam, not double the amount of sugar to the berries. It's fantastic. When an innovated application (you should email them as I"m sure they'd love to know of your mention). Even if these are not perfect to what you hoped, they are head an shoulders above anything available, and I have a feeling your scrutinizing eye is more stringent than we your adoring fans! Bravo!

  7. says

    Suzy Spellcheck here:

    I meant to say 'What an innovative application (of the pectin)'.

    'Head anD shoulders above anything available'.

    I need to slow down or get better contact lenses….or both! Toni

  8. food_dreamer says

    Hi Lizmari,

    When I make a healthy snack for my kids, I don't really calculate the carbs. Although these are super healthy, they aren't for a low carb diet! Not with all that apple sauce and juice.

    Carolyn

    Blog: All Day I Dream About Food
    URL: http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com

  9. says

    My husband (cough, cough) loves these things. I hate buying them because the good for you ones cost so much more. I cannot wait to take a Saturday and try this out. Hopefully mine will come out as wonderfully as yours.

  10. says

    I simply adore this recipe, and will most definitely need to try it out:-) I dried out Apple slices for a decoration for a pic, but man did that take FOREVER! Love these, hugs, Terra

  11. Wendy C says

    Here's my solution to solving the "wet on the bottom" problem. I dried them in the oven for 1 and a half hours, cut them down the middle (I used a 9×9 baking dish), flipped them over, and dried for another hour and a half. Cutting them in half made flipping (ok, shoveling, too) over much easier.

  12. says

    I've always wanted to try this. Thank you so much for the detailed tips. I too buy mine from Trader Joe's but this can get pricey and it has only become a luxury. What a great and fun way to get kids, including my husband to eat fruit. Thanks, Carolyn! I cannot wait to try this!

  13. tadsgirl says

    How do you store them for long term use?
    Do they freeze or can they go in a bag with an oxygen remover? Are they shelf stable?

  14. ritzyfoto says

    I really thought fruit leather as you call them are just from my culture since i have not seen them anywhere. I am iranian and these are called "lavashak" in persian(farsi). they actually have manufactures who make these and pack them in little squares and sells them., kids to adults love these and they come in all kind of flavors!! but we always made them homemade cause they taste much better than the ones you buy from outside. we don not bake it after it boils. we just let it dry under sunshine. it usually dries in few hours if you have good sun outside. ofcourse it should not be too watery and u need to boil it maximum so its thick and nice. i will defiantly try to bake it this time i am making it. this is the official facebook page. i will link your page there as well, i am sure iranians will be so thrilled to see others are into it too :) http://www.facebook.com/Official.Lavashak

  15. Tanya says

    Thank you for trying this I made the first gummies and my older child hated them too moist and to jello like my two year old loved them and ate them up fine but I wanted more gummie like cant wait to try it yeah.

  16. Leah says

    Oh my goodness, I just finished making a TON of these in three flavors – mango, raspberry, and blueberry. They are so tasty! Mine are quite a bit thicker than yours and I added a few steps. I was thinking (like someone else mentioned) that flipping it over and giving the other side a chance to dehydrate a bit would help, but then thought I'd try cutting them first too. I dehydrated until a fruit-leather-like layer had formed on the top and let it cool until it was just barely warm to the touch. I used a knife to release it from the sides and made it slip out upside down onto parchment paper. Most of the goo slid out, but I had to clean it up a bit with a spatula. I then let it cool until it was all jelly like and cubed it. I then arranged the squares on parchment (on a cookie sheet) so that no squares were touching, and continued to dehydrate until a thinner shell-like layer formed. Occe cooled, these little buggers are AMAZING!!! They are still soft and chewy inside, but aren't sticky at all. My kids (including the husband) all love them. But I haven't decided how many I'm going to share with them… Thanks for the recipe!!!

  17. Sara says

    Yum! I just used Sure-Jell pectin because that's what I could find. I spread it thinner and baked it a little longer, so it was more like fruit leather, but it sure did taste good! I used orange juice because that's all I had, and it gave it a nice tangy "zing". The whole family loved it!

  18. Courtney says

    Mine are in the oven right now (we used peach mango juice cause it's what we had on hand) Just wondering if it will still be liquid-y on the bottom? Hoping someone can get to this soon cause, they're firmish on top but still liquid on the bottom.

  19. Elaine Hockley says

    In another life I owned a very very large strawberry patch. When I had extra berries I just put them in the food processor, no added water. Then dehydrated in my little homemade dehydrator overnight. I just cut them into strips and rolled them for my kids lunches. You might not need to add anything at all to the fruit. It worked well for me.

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