Are gummy bears vegan?

When I think of gummy bears I usually think of Haribo sweets. They were one of my favorite treats growing up, and we would often receive parcels packed full of different jellies from relatives in Germany. Sadly, most gummies are not vegan, and are made using gelatin and sometimes other non-vegan ingredients such as carmine and other food colorings.

While the texture is not exactly like traditional gummy bears, these vegan jellies make a great alternative to gelatin-based sweets. The agar gives these vegan gummy bears more of a “jello” consistency than those chewier sweets you can buy in the shops.

Vegan fruit jellies

So I decided to try out a vegan gummy bear recipe using strawberries and kombucha as the main ingredients. Mainly because strawberries are in season and so delicious right now. And I love how they taste alongside tart and slightly carbonated kombucha. Kombucha is said to have originated in Northeast China as far back as 220 B.C.!

The name Kombucha is actually Japanese, meaning “kelp tea” and I imagine the traditional drink is a whole different experience from the mainstream brands to what we have come to know in this part of the world. If you’re interested in learning more about the origins of kombucha, I found this article which shows a brief timeline of the history of kombucha.

My partner was recently given some scoby from a work colleague and ever since he’s been on a mission to perfect his version of homemade kombucha. And I’m not complaining, I find it quite fascinating how the fermentation process works. We’ve both grown extremely fond of this sweetened fermented tea drink, and I’ve been thinking up ways in which to incorporate it into recipes.

Ingredients needed

Fresh strawberries: the main ingredient, and the sweeter the better for this recipe as the strawberry flavor really comes through in these gummy bears.  I’ve also tried these vegan gummies with fresh watermelon as well as they were amazing! Simply follow the same method of blending, sifting, and reducing as shown for the strawberries.

Kombucha: I absolutely love the fermented tangy flavor of kombucha, it pairs unbelievably well with strawberries. We use our own homemade one here but you can usually find it in health stores or some of the larger supermarkets. If you can’t get kombucha I’ve included some alternative options in the FAQ section at the end of this post.

Sugar: I use caster or cane sugar to give these jelly sweets a little extra sweetness, however, you can use maple syrup or agave or even just skip the sugar altogether if you’d prefer.

Agar-agar powder: this is the gelatin substitute. It is derived from red algae and acts as a plant-based setting agent. It’s a cruelty-free alternative to animal-based gelatine which is made from the skin, ligaments, and bones of cows or pigs.

How to make this recipe

(You can find the full written recipe, measurements, and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page)

Note: This recipe will fill about 6 gummy bear silicone mold trays. You can half the recipe for less or use different silicone molds you have to hand for any leftover mixture.

  1. Add the strawberries to your blender or food processor and blitz until completely smooth.
  2. Pass the strawberry puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan.
  3. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Allow the puree to bubble and reduce for 8-10 minutes, whisking continuously to prevent the mixture from burning to the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the kombucha and whisk to combine.

6. In a small bowl, mix the agar agar powder with 2 tablespoons of water to form a paste.

7. Add the agar paste to the saucepan and turn the heat to high until the mixture is bubbling. Turn the heat down to medium and allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously.

8. Use a dropper to fill the silicone molds and transfer them to the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

Frequently asked questions

How to store vegan gummies

Because these jellies contain fresh fruit, they need to be stored in the fridge. Make sure the container you use for them is airtight, and I’d recommend keeping them for no longer than 3-4 days (if they do last that long before they get eaten that is!).

What can I use instead of kombucha

If you don’t have access to or don’t like the taste of kombucha, you can use fruit juice in its place. Apple juice, coconut water, or orange juice are some options to choose from, but there aren’t really any limits to what you can use. Just bear in mind, that different fruit juices will yield different textures due to the difference in acidity and sugar levels.

Can I make this recipe with no added sugar?

Absolutely, if the fruit puree and kombucha are already sweet enough for you just leave out the added sugar. You can also opt for maple syrup or agave to keep the refined sugar content lower, again just bear in mind that differences and inconsistency should be expected when interchanging ingredients.

Can I use agar agar flakes instead of powder?

No, agar-agar flakes do not work in the same way as agar powder. Agar powder is much stronger and is what I recommend using for this particular vegan gummy bear recipe.

strawberry gummy bears in a grey bowl.Pin

More vegan candy

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Vegan Gummy Bears

4.69 from 16 votes
PREP TIME: 30 mins
Setting Time: 28 mins
TOTAL TIME: 58 mins
Servings: 12
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Description

Homemade gelatin-free gummy bears made with fresh strawberries and kombucha! These easy to make jellies are naturally gluten-free.

EQUIPMENT

Note: this recipe will fill about 6 gummy bear silicone mould trays. You can half the recipe for less.

Ingredients

  • 2.75 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup kombucha, or fruit juice *see notes
  • 3 tablespoons organic cane sugar, *see notes
  • 3.5 teaspoons agar-agar powder, *see notes

Instructions

  • Make sure the silicone molds are completely clean and dry. Place the molds on a tray or chopping board that's big enough to sit in your fridge.
  • Wash the strawberries and remove their tops. Add the berries to your blender or food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Pass the strawberry puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan.
  • Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the puree to bubble and reduce for 8-10 minutes, whisking continuously to prevent the mixture from burning to the bottom of the pan. Add the kombucha and whisk to combine.
  • In a small bowl, mix the agar agar powder with 2 tablespoons of water to form a paste.
  • Add the agar paste to the saucepan and turn the heat to high until the mixture is bubbling. Turn the heat down to medium and allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool slightly for a couple of minutes.
  • Use a dropper to fill the silicone molds and transfer them to the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.

Storage

  • Remove the gummy bears from their molds and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

  • Agar-agar powder: this recipe calls for agar powder, agar flakes will not work.
  • Molds: This recipe will fill about 6 gummy bear silicone mold trays. You can half the recipe for less or use different silicone molds you have to hand for any leftover mixture.
  • Kombucha: Use fruit juice such as apple, orange, or coconut water instead. Just bear in mind, that different fruit juices will yield different textures due to the difference in acidity and sugar levels.
  • Organic Cane Sugar: If the fruit puree and kombucha are already sweet enough for you just leave out the added sugar or swap it with maple syrup or agave, again just bear in mind the differences in consistency should be expected when interchanging ingredients.

Nutrition

Calories: 26kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
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