Fruit snacks. The classic kid favorite that’s a staple in many a busy family’s snack arsenal. A good idea in theory—they’re portable, they’re tasty, they’re made from fruit, and they usually at least offer some sort of nutritional value, according to the label. But if you take a second look, I think anyone could see that most fruit snacks aren’t really even deserving of the title of being equivalent to a real form of “fruit.”
A lot of folks out there seem to consider fruit snacks like a significant step up from your basic bag of gummy bears, or some other form of candy. Which I think, is a little scary. I mean, sure, maybe your particular brand of fruit snacks are “made with” actual fruit juice (which is really just code for: two drops of juice, 99% high fructose corn syrup), but let’s not kid ourselves, here. The average fruit snack isn’t exactly equivalent to a freshly-squeezed bunch of “wild berries.”
What’s in the average fruit snack? It usually goes a little something like this:
- Corn syrup (GMO)
- More corn, in the form of modified corn starch and extra fructose
- Petroleum-based mineral oils and waxes
- Chemical preservatives and artificial flavors
- Petrochemical-derived artificial colors
- GMO-derived synthetic vitamins
- A tiny bit of fruit juice so they can put it on the label and claim it’s made with “real fruit”
- And if they’re made with any real gelatin at all, it’s usually in the form of pork parts from diseased animals in factory farms. Not something I’d recommend.
This is why I wanted to make my own. I don’t have any kids, but hey—who say’s fruit snacks can’t be a grown-up treat, too? Not only are homemade fruit snacks super tasty, but they actually can be a very healthy snack choice. A big reason for that, is because they’re packed full of grass-fed gelatin!
And gelatin, is nature’s most perfect protein. It’s packed full of all the right amino acids, which help the body to release anti-aging growth hormones that do everything from increasing muscle tissue while burning off excess fat, to getting rid of cellulite. It provides your body with the collagen necessary for healthy, youthful skin, nails, and hair. Gelatin is also highly anti-inflammatory, as a critical amino acid, glycine, is a powerful combatant of inflammation in the body. And glycine makes up about 35% of gelatin powder!
Fruit snacks are a great way to get in a higher dose of that good-for-you gelatin than you’d get from a slice of run-of-the-mill homemade jello. That’s because you want fruit snacks to be much denser and chewier than a jello consistency—so that takes a lot more gelatin! In this recipe, the amount of gelatin is actually 6 times more concentrated than my homemade jello recipe.
To make homemade fruit snacks, you could go out of your way to blend up whole fruits, strain out the pulp and seeds, add lemon juice, sweetener, and reduce the mixture over a stovetop—which is all great, and I’ll have other recipes for these fancier snacks in the future. But this method is much quicker and easier, and only requires two ingredients—fruit juice concentrate, and gelatin! It takes just minutes to prepare. And, it’s still very wholesome in my book, because it’s made with 100% juice, and nothing added except the gelatin to magically transform it into snacks!
So, this is actually a bad example that I made, though—the concentrate I used was definitely not 100% juice, because it’s lemonade. But, it was organic, and not junked up with a bunch of high fructose corn syrup, and really tasty. So here it is!
2-Ingredient Strawberry Lemonade Fruit Snacks
Ingredients: (double or triple the recipe if you’d like!)
- 1/2 cup organic strawberry lemonade frozen juice concentrate, or other juice concentrate flavor of your choosing
- 3 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (this is the kind I use)
You will also need:
- Silicone candy molds (this is what I used and what you see pictured)
Scoop out your juice concentrate into a small saucepan, and let it melt for a few minutes. You can turn on the burner for just a little bit to speed it up, but you want the juice concentrate to remain cold for now. Once it’s more liquid than solid, sprinkle the gelatin powder over the juice concentrate. Allow this to sit for a few minutes—the juice will soak up the gelatin powder.
Then, just turn the burner on low, and whisk the mixture together for a couple minutes until it looks like all the gelatin is fully dissolved, so you’ll have a nice, smooth texture to the mixture.
Now, pour the mixture from the pan into a liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout. This will make it easier to pour into your molds. I decided to lightly grease my candy mold with coconut oil, by spreading a thin layer over it with my fingers, then wiping with a paper towel, but I have heard this is not always necessary with silicone molds.
Once you’ve filled your molds with the juice mixture, set it on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t flop around, and put in the fridge for about 20 minutes. It should set within that time, and be ready to pop out of the molds. My fruit snacks were all gobbled up within a few minutes of taking them out, but if you have leftovers, storing them in the refrigerator is probably ideal. Enjoy!
Try it out and let me know how you like it!
I will update this post with more pictures and successful juice flavors I’d recommend as I continue to make these fun little snacks. If you make some yourself and have any flavor recommendations based off what worked for you, leave a comment below so we can try your version, too!
[disclosure: cmp.ly/4; cmp.ly/5]
Could I just use regular juice and not the frozen concentrate? How would the recipe need to be tweaked to accommodate this? I have a couple of bottles of grape juice that need to be used and would love to make these for my grandchildren. Thanks for the recipe!
Hmm, good question! I don’t see why not—but I think you’d just have to concentrate it yourself, by reducing the liquid. I think a 12 ounce can of frozen juice concentrate yields 1.5 liters of juice, so that’s a 1:3 ratio. If you can simmer the juice on the stovetop for a couple hours, I bet you could reduce it by two-thirds. I just know that if you made it with regular juice, it wouldn’t be very flavorful.
what is a good price on grass fed beef unflavored gelatin? I’ve never bought it before.
Lauree Kramer says
Great Lakes has an unflavored (red/orange container) grass-fed gelatin. I live
in a small town but found 16 oz. container on Amazon.
OOOH! I’m excited to make these! I’m going on vacation in a few weeks with my husband and 2 yr. old daughter and I’m looking for healthy snacks to make for the trip. This will be great!
Katie | Girl Meets Nourishment says
My husband and I used to eat the not-so-healthy of these in college. But now that we eat real food, I think I must make these for him for old time’s sake!
Thanks for sharing!
You can use regular juice, it just depends on how sweet you want them. Juice concentrate makes them much sweeter. I always used regular juice. I used to make these all the time for my son when he was a kid. He’s now 27. But one suggestion: rather than using silicone, use a glass cake pan and cut into shapes with cookie cutters once set. That way they’re not absorbing the chemicals from the silicone.
Yeah, regular-strength juice wouldn’t be sweet enough for most peoples’ taste, I don’t think, but it is an option! Or you could reduce regular juice down just a little bit, or I guess add a little water to frozen concentrate to make it less sweet. Sometimes it’s helpful to add a little lemon juice or extract to give it more flavor and tartness if you opt for a more watered-down version.
Food-grade silicone is very safe. It’s inert and doesn’t leach chemicals, so I wouldn’t worry about that. The snacks are also only touching it for less than 20 minutes, too, so it’s not a long-term thing if you still have concerns.
What’s the deal with gelatin? I mean what is it really?
Good question! Well, if we’re talking about the run-of-the-mill gelatin found in processed foods and chemically-flavored boxes of Jell-O, it’s pretty nasty stuff. Mostly just because it comes from factory-farmed pigs and cows who are very unhealthy and diseased. The gelatin is derived from any parts of the pig which contain collagen, such as the skin, bones, and connective tissues.
The gelatin I use and recommend, however, is made from the collagen-rich tissues of healthy, sustainably-raised grass-fed cows. Well, they do offer a porcine variety of gelatin, but I prefer the bovine.
Hi, just to let you know, the porcine variety from Great Lakes is (apparently) not from pasture-raised or all naturallyl fed pigs.
I’d read about gelatin recently (and recipes for gummy treats) and I was happy to find Great Lakes gelatin locally. But, I looked closer and noticed it was porcine gelatin, not the beef variety. I didn’t think it would be much different, but since everyone recommends the GL beef gelatin, I looked into it briefly on the Great Lakes site.
This is what they say on the Great Lakes site:
…”Question: What are the hogs fed?
Those hogs raised in farm areas get their daily normal feed (raw corn, pellets, selected waste foods from restaurants, and grocery stores). Cloistered hogs are fed raw corn, selected grain pellets, and a variety of natural foods from various food markets when available.”
The beef gelatin is (apparently) from grass-fed cows from Argentina. It’s probably good quality, but it makes me a little concerned. And who knows, since the porcine variety can be fed “select waste products from restaurants and grocery stores” and pellets and corn (not organic, I’m guessing = gmo).
Here’s what they say about the cows used in the beef gelatin:
“…How are the cattle raised?
Our cattle are grass fed and slaughtered in Argentina and Brazil which is controlled by their respective Department of Agriculture. These countries have the same type of rigourous tests and inspections as the United States. Beef hides are the only product used to manufacture gelatin in these countries.”
I think I still want to try the beef gelatin, but after reading that about the porcine variety, I don’t feel as good about this product as when I first read about it..
I do really want to try to make some homemade gummy treats. I’ve always enjoyed those chewy tangy-sweet type treats.
Substitute with Kombucha, rather than juice! 🙂
That’s a tasty option, too!
If you use kombucha would you need to reduce it? Wouldn’t that kill all the health benefits?
This sounds yummy and fun! I just got some of the same kind of gelatin you use from Amazon yesterday…..I needed something creative to make with it, and this will do the trick 🙂
Yummy! I think they could probably be made with any fruit juice concentrate. They had they texture of gummy bears.
Made these today! They could have used more flavor, but were definitely chewy. Next time, I’m going to add a bit of lemon extract. I used a whole can of concentrate as I had bigger molds (and six kids) and adjusted accordingly.
I look forward to your recipe with fruit!
Awesome! Yeah I find that a drop or two of lemon extract almost never hurts in a jello recipe! Great idea. 🙂
Becca C. says
This recipe actually turned out really grainy and sponge-like to me, did you experience that same thing?
I had the same problem. I used Welch’s Grape juice and Knoxx Gelatin (yeah I know it’s not as good as the grass fed or anything but this is all they sell at my walmart and I wanted to try it!)
They’re okay but it really just feels like eating weird grape juice because the texture is all wrong.
What do you think happened, ButterBeliever?
Any time gelatin snacks turn out grainy, it’s usually because the gelatin wasn’t fully dissolved. Make sure it’s well-heated and totally smooth before putting it in the molds. Fruit snacks are trickier than your basic jello because there’s a much higher gelatin-to-juice ratio, so you really have to get the consistency right, or it’ll have a yucky texture.
Hope you have better luck the next time you try it! I will also have several more fruit snack recipes coming up soon (I’m coming out with a gelatin ebook), so keep an eye out for those if you want to try out other methods.
That’s kinda what I was suspecting…
Thank you for answering!!
If you make grainy ones can you blend it up with other ingredients to make a smoothie? I can’t seem to stomach eating the spongy, grainy ones I made but I don’t want to waste! Any ideas? Thanks!
Aw, dang. Yeah, I think that’s a pretty good idea! Wouldn’t want it to go to waste if you can help it.
How did you get them to come out of the molds so nicely? Mine just broke apart and stuck to the silicone molds.
These look awesome, I’m going to make em for my niece. She’s usually picky with what she eats but I’m sure she’ll love these. Thanks so much.
When it comes to juicer recipes, there is no better book than The Juicing Bible. Got mine from Amazon at a great price, here’s my deal for 44% off: http://amzn.to/12T99NE – You will not be disappointed.
GR Crowther says
I USE DAVIS GELATINE 50GNET BOVINE HIDE COST 2.40 MIX 50 G IN HOT WATER ADD FRESH STRABERRY S
The gelatin that you used – does it have a taste? Is it the same texture of Knox Gelatin? Love gel type snacks and used to make them for my kids, but used Knox many years ago.
Yes, very similar in texture and performance to Knox, just a difference in quality.
Addie Evans says
I provided a link to this recipe in my GAPS blog!
When I say I have adapted your recipe, what I mean is, I prefer to just use the whole can of concentrate and make a larger batch, but a can is 12oz, and a half a cup is 4 oz. When I triple the amount of gelatin, my fruit snacks get way too hard. I am still working out how much gelatin I like to add to one can of juice concentrate.
I was wondering about the consistency, do they have any resistance or do your teeth sink right through?
I’d say they have a good amount of resistance, yes. However, if you want a different consistency or density to any kind of gelatin snack, you can just adjust the amount of gelatin powder you use. More gelatin equaling a denser and more “resistant-type” snack, etc.
This looks like something my kids will really enjoy, thanks 🙂 BTW you might want to start blogging something more like “GMO is the way to go!”—LOL (that rhymed). Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect knowledge out there about GMOs. Sometimes, people site “studies” that have been done showing that GMO’s are bad for you. I’m a PhD student in this area (genetics and biotechnology), and there are no real studies, of which I am aware, that show anything bad comes from eating GMO. There are several bad studies (experiments not set up correctly, results not verified etc)that sometimes get sited. GMO technology is something that will do alot to help the world in the future—combat world hunger, nutritional problems, climate change–etc 🙂
I’ve tried making these twice and had major fails both times! My gummies never hardened; they turn out super mushy and spongy in the molds. They just crumble apart when you try to take them out. What am I doing wrong? I’ve followed all instructions, even trying a different type of juice concentrate the second time. Used grass fed gelatin both times. Can you help?
Be sure the gelatin you are using is of the gelling variety. There are non-gelling gelatins out there too, for example, the green canister of Great Lakes Is non-gelling, whilst the red/orange is intended for gelling.
I’ve started putting citric acid in mine for a little tartness, I’ve used lemon essential oil but I don’t like it as much. I successfully concentrated juice in the freezer following a post I found, it was easy. Pretty much just freeze juice in a container, then turn it upside down over a funnel and another container on the counter, wait until the juice drips down and leaves a mostly clear ice block behind, repeat. It made delicious grape fruit snacks
Since you recommend using juice concentrate do the snacks turn out tangy? Just curious, I’m waiting on my grass fed bovine pectin to arrive and I was wondering about this. If I use wate to tone it down a bit will it still work?
You can play around with it and see what you like, but I find that in general, gelatin tends to dull flavors and sweetness, so using the full concentration tastes the best, in my experience.
Disappointed VEGAN says
I was interested, until the touting of “made with real, grass fed gelitin”, or whatever the exact words were.
I’m vegan, and just returned store bought organic “fruit” snacks to the store for a refund.
Carcass gel, is NOT a fruit.
Oh, dear. That’s a new one I’ve not heard before! Haha. Thanks.