Making Healthy Candies


Sep 07

Dontcha just love the recipes you find online?

For example, a recipe for ginger snaps might start out: “Oh how I remember the smell of the kitchen when Mom made these wonderful cookies. I was just four years old, and still the images and smells come rushing back every time I start putting this recipe together.”

Next come the photos, professionally produced and so huge it takes 20 minutes to load the damn site.

Then after you’ve blown through half the page you find, “When I was twelve, we all got together to make these for the holidays.”

Eventually you’ll find the actual recipe. Or should I say hopefully.

We are a health site, and yes we will talk about the benefits of the recipes, but I am not a frustrated writer. I write. Some read, some don’t. Meh. End of story.

Our recipes are out in the open, unless we’re writing about all the problems you’ll run into, as in our Healthy Soda Pop page. That process was insane. There was more moping the floor than making pop in those early days.

This page won’t give you a recipe, but will give you ideas.

The Beginning

I do the shipping for Simply the Best, and so I have their products in my back room. Since they are there, one of the perks of this job is I get the products when I need them, especially when inventing something new for our readers.

I had a big plastic jar of beet juice powder and there was just a little left in the bottom and I guess I did not close the cover tight enough. One day I found it, and on the bottom was a glump. It was hard and sticky and I pried it loose with a fork, and examined it. Then I broke off a bit and chewed it and found it to be absolutely delightful. SuperBeets® makes a chew that’s a bit tasty, but this was much tastier.

That’s when I decided to try something. I mixed together a cup of beet juice powder and a cup of pomegranate juice powder and added just a little water. Less than a cup, maybe just half a cup. I poured this into molds and let it sit.

The next day, I discovered it hadn’t changed, was just a candy mold filled with a thick syrup, and I estimated that it might take three or four months to dry up into the consistency of that original glump. I surmised this because I’d put it in the oven, set it on dehydrate, and the next day it was pretty much exactly as I’d made it.

My next thought was to put it in the freezer. It did solidify, they were wonderful (a friend loved it) but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

So I hit google looking for gummy recipes, or gumdrops, gummy bears, etc.

Did you know that no one has ever made a healthy gummy recipe? I could not find one with organic ingredients, or one that used actual juice powders. They were definitely designed for a sugar high and dental appointments.

I finally gathered up a few of those recipes, and learned that I’m going to need gelatin, food starch, and possible an oil with which I could spray the candy molds.

Then I went and found tips on using gelatin. I had always thought that heat was needed to make gelatin gel, but I found out in my first experiment that it pretty much gels within about ten minutes just sitting in water. Then I learned that you can heat it up to un-gel it, but never use too much heat or it will lose its properties.

This knowledge changed my initial recipe. I was going to add the gelatin dissolved water to my fruit juice powders, then warm it up, liquefying the powders and setting the gelatin.

That wasn’t going to work. So I doubled the amounts of the juice powders and increased the water, heated them slowly while constantly stirring, and then added the gelled gelatin, stirring that in (medium to low heat) and when it was all liquefied, I took it off the heat and filled candy molds.

The first candy mold I dusted with tapioca starch as one of the recipes recommended. The second one, I used with no preparation. The first one I set out (one recipe told me it could take five days to harden.) The other I put in the freezer.

Dusted with tapioca starch . . . don’t know how long it has to sit. It’s sitting in the oven so that ants and fruit flies don’t invade my kitchen.

The freezer group was ready to eat in no time, but I’ve now pulled them out to see if they’ll still stay solid at room temp. Oh, and they are delicious, and HEALTHY! I mean, what could be healthier for your heart than beets and pomegranates?

And right here, as I write this, I’ve just run to the kitchen and discovered that they are softer than Jell-o. So, back in the freezer and on with experiments.

The things I can try are

  • Increase the amount of gelatin
  • Add powdered gelatin to my rehydrated juice powders rather than adding it first to water (this would cut the amount of water in the recipe)
  • Add a bit of tapioca starch to the recipe
  • Add konjac flour to the recipe

The great thing about these experiments is I get to eat all my failures. Unlike Dr Frankenstein.

And as I get ready to post this, I’ve just learned not to freeze gelatin because it pulls water out. I don’t even know what this means.

Vital Proteins

The gelatin we got came from Vital Proteins, one of our affiliate programs. Please support them. They have the best products on the market. Click the image to visit their site.

Do You Have Any Suggestions

If you have any, or any experience at this sort of thing, PLEASE leave a comment. I’m open to all suggestions.