Originally posted July 31st, 2015. Revised and updated August 20th, 2016.
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I have a serious sweet tooth, and it was just a matter of time before I started trying to make my own candy.
Since I love the little brightly colored jelly ones, I was eager to make my own from scratch at home.
Similar to gumdrops or jellybeans, these pack an intense flavor. When they’re made with real fruit and without the addition of artificial colors, they are a lot healthier for you, and better for your waistline.
Due to the amount of natural fruit sugar in the juice, you won’t need to add lots of extra sweetener. It is best to use 100% fruit juice without additives. This will also provide a more intense color and flavor.
But better yet…
Make your own fresh juice using a good quality juicer and take advantage of all of those enzymes, vitamins, and micro-nutrients that aren’t found in prepackaged products due to the various pasteurization, concentration, re-hydration, and transportation processes that these “natural” juices must undergo.
Keep in mind, however, that freshly pressed juices will separate, and they can spoil quickly. Make your juice and then turn it into candy right away, for best results.
That being said…
This isn’t something that should be on the menu every day, but these little squares allow you to have less of guilty conscience than you might after nibbling the industrial and artificially flavored varieties.
You can either cut them into small cubes with a knife or use a cookie cutter to make fancier shapes.
If you think you may be interested in making homemade candy more often, you may want to consider getting some silicone molds that can be used for chocolates, or different varieties of hard and soft candy.
If the single-colored cubes are too simple for you, try making some multicolored versions.
First, prepare the mixture. Leave it to set and pour a second one on top. Once everything is firm, proceed as described and enjoy your colorful sweets.
Homemade candy makes a great gift, too – if you can keep your hands off the treats! Present them in decorative gift boxes or small bags lined with tissue at all of your special events.
Required kitchen equipment:
- plastic wrap
- pastry brush
- baking dish (approx. 4 x 8″)
- cookie cutters or suitable molds (optional)
Cooking by the Numbers…
To make this simple recipe, I’m using gelatin sheets or “leaves,” which I’ve been told are not very common in the US or Canada.
I find that leaves make a superior gel to powdered gelatin. The different grades available are really just different weights associated with the leaves, to indicate the strength of the bloom and the firmness with which your final product will set. These grades go from Titanium (120 bloom, the least firm) up through Platinum (the most firm at 230 bloom, at the highest strength available).
I used the gold grade for this particular recipe.
Of course you can always substitute the commonly available powdered gelatin for the leaves, but I find that it doesn’t typically jell as well and results in a more cloudy finished product.
Step One – Soak the Gelatin
First, add cold water to a dish and soak the gelatin leaves for approximately five minutes.
Step Two – Making the Mixture
Add the fruit and lemon juice and water to a saucepan. Bring to a slight boil and mix in the sugar, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Step Three – Add the Gelatin
Remove the gelatin leaves from the water and gently squeeze out the excess. Add to the juice mixture and let dissolve. Do not allow the liquid to boil, and gently whisk in the leaves to assist with incorporation.
After the gelatin has dissolved completely, turn off the heat and allow to cool to a lukewarm temperature.
Step Four – Chill Time
Line a baking dish with plastic wrap. Pour the jelly liquid into the dish and place in the refrigerator for minimum of 5-6 hours.
Step Five – Remove From Mold & Slice
After the liquid has set, remove the jelled mixture from the plastic.
You can cut your candy into 1-inch squares, or use cookie cutters for something a little fancier. I like to cut mine into holiday-themed shapes.
Tip: Spread some oil on your knife to make slicing easier.
Step Six – Pour Some Sugar on Me!
This step is optional. Use a pastry brush to coat the jelly candy with a thin layer of oil, then toss in granulated sugar to coat. This will help to keep your pieces of candy from sticking to each other, and adds a nice touch of crunch.
This recipe will create some very delicious treats that are free of artificial coloring and other additives.
They’re still mostly sugar, but homemade candies made with fresh juices contain a good dose of vitamins and antioxidants with each bite too. It beats the heck out of those empty calorie temptations that are always around during the holidays and at parties!
Another good thing about this recipe is its adaptability. Make heart-shaped treats for Valentine’s Day or replace your usual Christmas fudge with red and green variations of these jellied cubes. The possibilities are endless when you make candy during the holidays.
Hungry for more healthy-friendly candy recipes? Check out our simple recipe on making crystallized ginger candy.
Have you ever made jellied candy? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!
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Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Mike Quinn and Allison Sidhu.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.