Ever left some gummy bears out, only to find them hardened and dry? Microwave in 5-10 second intervals in order to soften hardened gummy candies. It also helps to add a drop of water to each piece of candy.
Whether the gummies are to be eaten right away or stored, it is best practice to let them cool first after softening. This prevents clumping and unpleasant sticky “chew-texture”.
Most commercial gummy candies are made with gelatin which gives their chewy texture. The main ingredients in gummy candy are water, gelatin, sugar, corn syrup, and other additives such as food dyes and flavoring. As gummy candy slowly loses moisture (if unsealed), the gelatin clumps more, resulting in a hardened candy.
Why Does Gummy Candy Harden?
The strength of gelatin partly depends on how concentrated it is; a higher concentration means a harder and denser candy.
Gummy candies that are left in the open eventually lose their water content through evaporation. This causes the gelatin to be more concentrated and therefore, the gummy becomes harder and denser. The loss of moisture typically shrinks gummies as well.
When it comes to making your own gummy candy, it is important to use a calibrated thermometer. A common mistake for making any kind of candy is going too high or low on the temperature. For example, cooking sugar to hard ball stage is quite different from soft ball (around 240F) in terms of hardness.
If your gummies come out hardened even after cooking to the appropriate temperature, make sure to calibrate your thermometer by boiling water and checking at 212F.
How to Soften Hardened Gummy Candy
Soak in lukewarm water. With hardened gummies, place them in a bowl of slightly warm water. The gummies will slowly regain their softness and grow in size. It might not be as chewy as it originally was, but soft gummies are more pleasant to eat than hardened gummies.
Depending on who is consuming the candy, you could also use vodka or rum to infuse and soften the gummies. An overnight soak could make the gummies swell up a tiny bit.
Microwave the gummies. Splash a tiny bit of lukewarm water on each gummy. Then microwave in 5-10 second intervals until you reach desired softness and consistency. Note that the gummies will shrink slightly. Store in an airtight container after the gummy has dried and cooled down.
Extra Tip: After rehydrating the gummies, let the gummies dry until the outer surface feels dry. You don’t want the gummies to stick together after repackaging.
What can I do with stale gummy bears?
Ideally, it is best to just toss stale anything out. However, here is a list of some fun ways to use stale gummy bears:
- Eat it with oatmeal. There is just enough heat and moisture to get hardened gummies chewy again.
- Freeze in popsicles. Try freezing them in fruit juice popsicles.
- Try to rehydrate. Using the tips above, hardened gummy candy does not mean stale sometimes.
How do you keep gummy bears fresh?
Store the gummies in an airtight container in cool, dry conditions. Moisture will degrade any candy over time. The fridge is a quick fix for storing gummy candy but it is even more important to have airtight storage to shield it from humidity in the refrigerator.
How do you make gummy bears not sticky?
A quick temporary fix is to freeze them in an airtight container. However, this does not fix gummy candy that has not been cooked to proper temperatures.
A light dusting of cornstarch or powdered sugar can help keep your gummies from sticking together.
If your gummy bears are settling but are still soft and sticky, either add more gelatin, decrease the water used, or cook to a higher temperature. (A common mistake is having an uncalibrated candy thermometer).
Another good option is to add a bit of oil, as an ingredient or as a light coating. Any use of granulated sugar or citric acid will make gummies more prone to sticking.