Making gummies at home is even more fun than it seems. By mixing plain gelatin with sugar, fruit, or other flavored liquids, you can create gummy treats in every form. Now, plain gelatin does require a little more know-how than the box of flavored gelatin, but once you master these mistakes to avoid (and tips for mastering gelatin) you can whip up no-bake gelatin treats any ol' time with ingredients from your pantry and fridge with ease.
What Is Gelatin?
Gelatin is the processed version of collagen, a protein found in connective tissue. Here at Kitchn we typically call for powdered gelatin for recipes, as it is easiest to find (it should be on grocery store shelves near the flavored gelatin products) and because it is easy to measure.
Gelatin is set by rehydrating (or blooming it) in cool water, heating the hydrated gelatin, and then cooling it again to set. The set, or firmness, of the final dish depends on the liquid-to-gelatin ratio used. It is pretty easy to work with once you understand those basics, which is one of the reasons I love making gelled treats with my children.
1. Forgetting to hydrate the gelatin.
Because powdered gelatin is so fine, it may seem like it will dissolve in the warm liquid. Blooming, the other term often used for hydrating, ensures that the gelatin will dissolve completely in the warm base and also ensures a clear, even gel.
Follow this tip: You can bloom gelatin in any cool liquid, water is typical, but you can also use a portion of whatever juice, wine, or tea you plan to set too.
2. Adding the hydrated gelatin to hot base.
While the gelatin is blooming, you likely be prepping the liquid you plan to set. Impatiently adding the bloomed gelatin to the base while it is hot will weaken the gelatin's setting power.
Follow this tip: Be sure to cool the base liquids before adding the gelatin. And avoid boiling any liquid that has the gelatin added. Your patience will be rewarded with a stronger gel.
3. Not using the gelatin mixture right away.
Gelatin begins to set immediately as it cools, so it is best to keep it warm and to work relatively quickly when filling molds.
Follow this tip: Have your molds or prepared dish for setting ready before you even start blooming the gelatin. And work quickly in filling small molds to avoid lumpy-shaped blooms. A bulb baster or small syringe (think: those plastic ones that dose out kids' medicine) are really great for filling small molds like gummy bears.
4. Using ingredients that interfere with gelling.
Certain fresh fruits including pineapple, kiwi, mango, ginger root, papaya, figs, or guava can prevent gelatin from setting completely or at all and are best avoided. Protease is an enzyme present in these fruits that degrades the gelatin's gelling.
Alcohol can interfere with the setting properties of gelatin in high portions, so don't increase the proportion of alcohol to non-alcoholic liquid in recipes that call for it.
Follow this tip: Cooking the alcohols, like wine, reduces the alcohol content and makes them easier to gel. Canned, cooked, or dried versions of these fruits can be used to successfully set them in gelatin.