***Note: I've updated the recipe for homemade fruit snacks. It now uses juice concentrate instead of juice, and less gelatin. The point of this recipe is for fruit snacks made from 100% juice, and for a fun activity for kids. If you want to make snacks from fruit puree, consider making homemade fruit roll-ups. If you want delicious not-fruit snacks, try the Jell-o version below.***
Remember this thread about whether or not fruit snacks are a healthy snack? Let's face it, there are definitely healthier snacks out there. But kids love those chewy, fruity bites.
You know what else kids love? Helping in the kitchen! I thought about that thread for a while, then decided to try making my own fruit snacks from 100% juice. I've been experimenting and I finally found something that works!
I started with a homemade fruit snack recipe I tried a while ago using Jell-o. Jell-o isn't any better for kids than fruit snacks are, and I really wanted something more healthy. So I tried using unflavored gelatin and 100% juice. This worked, but using thawed 100% juice concentrate tasted even better. (We also tried frozen lemonade concentrate, which was delicious, but not 100% juice.)
Juice. Pick a juice with lots of flavor - grape, cherry, cranberry etc. The best one we tried was White Grape Raspberry - so yummy! I do NOT recommend apple juice. Also, as someone pointed out in the replies, anything with pineapple will not work. Something in pineapple keeps gelatin from setting.
Gelatin. Unflavored gelatin is sold in the Jell-o/pudding aisle. It was $1.79 for 4 envelopes at Kroger, and $1.18 for the same at Wal-mart. You can also buy it in bulk at some health food stores.
Molds. I used Jell-o jiggler molds, Jell-o bean molds, and rubber ice cube trays from the $1 store. Dollar Tree had fun molds in skulls and pumpkin shapes for Halloween with the holiday supplies, and flower shapes with the kitchen stuff. You can also buy similar molds from IKEA. Do not grease your molds. The fruit snacks will seem a little sticky, but should come out cleanly from your mold. If they don't, they haven't cooled long enough. The fruit juice ones were definitely not as sticky as the jell-o ones.
100% Juice Fruit Snacks Recipe
1/3 c. 100% frozen fruit juice concentrate
2-3 .25 oz envelopes unflavored gelatin (use 2 for softer fruit snacks, and 3 for firmer ones)
Pour the juice into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let it sit for a few minutes. Put the pan over medium heat and stir until all the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into a measuring cup with a spout so you can easily fill your molds. Fill the molds and allow to set at least 20 minutes. You can speed up the process a bit by putting them in the refrigerator.
Jell-o Fruit Snacks Recipe
1 3 oz package gelatin, any flavor
2 .25 oz envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 c. water
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into molds and allow to set at least 20 minutes.