Pectin Gummies Dos and Don’ts

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The Struggle

It seems that making gummies has grown in popularity over the last 5-6 years. There is a constant search for making the best gums. Although making gums comes with more baggage than you could ever imagine. Whether it’s gelatin, agar, or pectin you can run into more problems than you would find in a mathematics textbook. Pectin is a nearly ideal ingredient for making gummies as they have a great texture and flavor release. But if the recipe is altered in even the slightest way it can spell disaster. So we wanted to cover a few on the most common issues people have with making pectin gummies. 

“How can I make gums out of pectin ?” 

The gummy gamble

For me, making a pectin gummy was all a matter of figuring out the method. There are a lot of recipes on the internet that lead you to believe that the end result will be a gummy. But what you end up with is a pate de fruit. Pate de fruit is a soft jelly or jam-like texture which is not reminiscent of a chewy gummy candy. The pectin we use for this type of gummy is High Methoxyl (HM) pectin. HM pectin is an ingredient that requires high sugar and acid content to set. For the firmest, chewiness texture we use is Rapid Set HM pectin, more on that later. 

We found the key to making a proper pectin gummy comes from two things. The first is to make a mixture of the sugar, pectin, & water and cook the sugar to a temperature between 220-240°F. Anything over 240°F will cause the gums to take one a hard candy texture; anything under 220°F will yield a pate de fruit texture. One more thing that you should note, the gummy will have a different texture between 220°F and 240°F. The higher the temp the stiffer the texture. The second key is to add the citric acid as late in the process as possible. Adding the citric acid too early will cause the mixture to set in the pot when the mixture reaches 220°F. Once the gel has formed the heat cannot penetrate as well as it can when it is a liquid. Getting the gel to 240°F is nearly impossible without burning the bottom of the pan. 

Another issue we commonly see is people attempting to get the gums into a mold directly out of a pan. Pouring the pectin gums directly into one large mold is the easiest method we have found. This works best because once the citric acid is added it is the last thing the pectin needs to create a gel. Once it starts to gel it can be poured into a large mold and set. If you attempt to pour this into a number of individual smaller molds (imagine gum drops or gummy bears) the mixture would set far before the end of filling the molds.This is something we haven’t found a perfect solution for. One workaround  we have found is to use Slow Set HM pectin rather than Rapid set HM pectin. It starts by only heating the sugar to 220-230°F. Slow set pectin will set slower than Rapid set HM pectin which we mentioned earlier. This creates a softer gum because of the low sugar temperature, but it is more pourable. This method works but does not produce the firm texture you get from heating the sugar to 240°F. Heating the slow set pectin to a higher temperature (240°F) removes so much of the water that it basically bypasses the “slow set” aspect of this pectin. I have toyed with the idea of adding the citric acid once they are in the molds, but have not been successful. So at the moment the best process is to form them into a block or sheet and then cut them into desired shapes and coat them with sugar. With more testing I should be able to find a better way and when I do I’ll be sure to update you all. But until then, keep cooking. 

Check out our Fruity Pectin Jelly Candies recipe to get started!