I‘m going to be reeeeal straight with you guys today and say that you probably don’t want to make these. Or at least, not the way I did it. Do you know how long it takes to fill an entire mold of tiny gummy bears with a big batch of gummy liquid? And repeat it 3 or 4 times?? Longer than it should. And then, how frustrating it is to push each solidified gummy bear out of the mold and stare in horror as their little feet get stuck and then cry about it for 2 seconds? I mean, the gummies tasted good but not good enough to be worth how long making them took.
But, there is a silver lining in this! All problems can be fixed by using a larger gummy bear mold. You won’t have to be so meticulous when it comes to filling the molds when they’re larger, and there would be less of a chance of gummy amputation too. Plus, you can also customize the gummies with any kind of fresh fruit juice you want! Try pureed strawberries or maybe even something more tropical like mango or pineapple. Just, don’t use a tiny mold. Please don’t. That’s my word of advice.
Now if you haven’t heard of li hing mui before, here’s a little bit of info for ya. Like poke and spam, li hing mui is another signature flavor to Hawaii. You’ll see it all over the local snacks aisle at Long’s; lihing gummy bears, gummy worms, gummy o’s, sour watermelon, apple candies and strawberry belts. OH MY! I love it on fresh chunks of pineapple and have probably eaten a few pounds worth of lihing covered apple slices from beach potlucks and club sports picnics over the years. It’s even in the lemonade at KCC Farmer’s market. What I mean is that it’s basically everywhere in Hawaii.
On its own, li hing mui is sour and a little bit salty. But when paired with sweets, like gummy candies, it turns into the kind of snack you can’t stop eating. Kinda like how it’s impossible to stop eating flaming hot cheetos once you start. And both will also leave you with temporarily red fingers too. Heh.
But by far, the best part about making homemade bears is the initial mixing of ingredients is super simple and you’ve got control over every aspect of it. Also, if you’ve always wanted to try this at home since you were a kid then here’s your chance! Or is that just me. In actuality, factory-made gummies are made without molds but with cornstarch. Bear shapes are pressed into the loose cornstarch and then filled with the gummy mixture. Which then saves you the whole hassle of removing the gummy bears from the mold. Maybe future me will attempt homemade gummy bears with that method but for now I need to find a use for the giant bottle of gelatin I have in the pantry because I don’t have plans to make 1000 individual gummy bears in the near future. Or ever.
Lihing Gummy Bears
Makes about 1 cup of gummy bears (not about to count each individual bears).
1 cup juice from fresh blood oranges (or any other fruit)
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp honey
4 tbsp gelatin
3 tbsp li hing mui powder
1. In a small saucepan, heat the blood orange juice on medium low. Whisk in the lemon juice and honey and stir until completely dissolved. Test the liquid and add extra honey if you want your gummy bears sweeter.
2. Add in the gelatin to the saucepan a tablespoon at a time. Whisk well and continue to cook on medium-low heat until the gelatin has completely dissolved. The mixture will turn glassy and smooth and thicken slightly. Transfer the liquid to a measuring cup or bowl. If using a silicon mold for small gummy bears, you’ll probably want to use a pipette to fill the molds. You can also use a spoon for better accuracy but a pipette will work best. If you have a larger mold, you should be fine just pouring the liquid in. TIP: Place the mold on a baking tray to help when moving it to the freezer.
3. Place the filled mold in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until the bears have hardened. Don’t worry if there’s a bit of freezer burn on the gummies. It’ll go away when the bears warm up slightly.
4. Remove the bears from the mold and transfer to a ziplock bag. Sprinkle the li hing mui powder inside and shake the bears around to cover them in the powder.
5. Bears should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep up to a few weeks.