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Gummy Worms Recipe – Fruit-juice Sweetened

Gummy Worms Recipe Video – scroll down for recipe card

I’ve gotcha a fruit-juice sweetened, natural gummy worms recipe right here for Halloween. But first, a spooky Halloween story.

Halloween night, late 1980s. My family lived in the boonies so there were no good streets or even houses at which to trick or treat. All dressed up, my mom drove me and my brother into town to go trick or treating in my granddad’s neighborhood. We’d gotten maybe 5 miles down the road, bouncing along in the Ford F150 that many years later I would learn to drive on, when a big buck ran right out in front of us. We killed it, immediately I hope, but not on purpose of course. Living in the country, you know that hitting a deer on the road is bound to happen some day. But goddamnit why did it have to be on Halloween?!?! I was pissed as a 9-year-old can be. Rather than leave it there, my mom turned the truck around and went home and got my dad. The two of them drove back to the scene of the crime and loaded that big dead deer into the back of the Ford. They drove it home.

And hour later, we’d changed from our costumes (there would be no treats this year, but the tricks, there were plenty of those coming up…) and my dad has the the deer strung up on our own wooden swing set. Right between the two swings, there now swung a deer carcass. Can you imagine anything more gruesome, and on Halloween? I can. Because it gets worse.

I guess he’d learned to dress a deer from his grandpa and I guess “dressing” a deer is a euphemism really for “undressing” a deer by removing its skin from its body. And also removing all its organs. And when you do that, all the contents of its stomach end up on the ground. There were hundred of bloody acorns scattered all around. God, this is an awful story. I shouldn’t be writing any of this on a food blog. But it happened. And it was Halloween. And we were poor so we ate that deer. Half of it was too damaged by the Ford to salvage, but the rest of it was “perfectly good deer meat”. It took my dad most of the night to butcher it and package it. My little brother helped. I’m sure he was up far, far past our bed time. Paper-wrapped hunks of deer meat filled our freezer and my grandma’s freezer down the street for months. Deer sausage, chicken-fried deer steak, deer chili, deer stew. Forever.

The skull and antlers found a home nailed to a tree a ways off until insects and rodents and birds had picked it clean and then the sun had bleached it white. The piles of acorns under the swing set stayed there, decomposing as slowly as they could until all that was left was pink-stained dirt.

And if that’s not enough to get you in the mood to eat some very lifelike gummy worms, I don’t know what is.

Gummy Worms Recipe

gummy worms recipe

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Gummy Worms

gummy worms recipe
  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Total Time: 12 hours
Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 envelopes gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional for sweeter worms)
  • 1 cup cold juice (cran-grape, cran-apple, grape, cranberry, etc.)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half cream
  • couple drops red food coloring
  • about 50 large straws (“milkshake straws”)

Instructions

  1. Find a straight-sided jar wide enough to hold all the straws. I used a wide-mouth 1 quart Mason jar. Place all straws in the jar and bundle them with a rubber band if necessary to keep them upright. Place the jar in an ice water bath at least 2 inches deep. (see video for demo)
  2. Dissolve gelatin and sugar in cold juice.
  3. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved and the liquid is smooth and thick.
  4. Stir in cream.
  5. Pour about half of this this evenly into the straws to fill them each about 1-2 inches depth.
  6. Allow to set 10-20 minutes in the ice bath until mostly solid.
  7. Meanwhile, add food coloring to remaining gelatin and stir.
  8. Pour into straws, filling as evenly as possible. Remove jar from ice bath and refrigerate several hours or overnight until fully set.
  9. To remove worms from straws, dip straws into warm water for a couple of seconds, then squeeze from the empty end to slice gummy worms out. If worms do not easily slip out, the straws are too cold. Warm them again in water until they can be easily squeezed out.
  10. Worms can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight plastic container for several days. Spray lightly with a little oil and gently toss to coat them, to ensure that they don’t stick together.)

Notes

Store gummy worms in the fridge
Experiment with different juices and food dyes to make multi-colored worms

gummy worms recipe

13 Comments

  1. Sri Ramkrishna on October 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    This is the best recipe for Udon noodles ever!

    • Hilah on October 17, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Mmm, and they are even better in soup! 😉

  2. Dave on October 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    My daughter would dig these.

    • Hilah on October 17, 2014 at 8:23 am

      They’d be a fun Halloween project to make together for sure!

  3. Amy on October 22, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Hilah! I am determined to make these gummy worms. Thing is, no matter how well I aim the juice into the straws the first time, it seems to all gather up down in the cup waaaayyyy more than it seems to in yours. I’m on my second batch; you’re right the bendy straws suck, and I even extended them out because I thought it would leave a good accordion design on the worms. And I changed a couple other things as well; I added a little more juice for the second half so I could fill up the straws further since I also used about 70 straws instead of 50. So here I am, waiting for the first half to garden and it’s been 25 minutes… Still pretty liquidy. I’m used to experimenting a bit (grew up with my dad the baker) so maybe I’m just not be in specific to the recipe enough. Is it crucial that I follow very instruction to the T? I want to get this by Friday so I can make it for my students! Please help!

    • Hilah on October 22, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi Amy!
      I’ll try to answer each issue in order. First, regarding the aiming: I don’t know what kind of setup you’re using, but bind the straws fairly tight together so there isn’t much space between them, and put the bundle in as tight-fitting a jar or cup as you can get. Fill them about an inch and don’t worry too much if it seems like there’s lots in the cup, the liquid levels should all even out so although you can’t seen how much is in the straws, it’s there.
      Second, I’d suggest just making shorter worms rather than diluting the mixture. You want these to set up very firm, so the high ratio of gelatin to liquid is important.
      Did you make any other changes? Are you using 100% juice? If you’re using a juice with sugar added, that might be affecting the set-up, too. Sugar in high quantities interferes with gelatin setting.
      Hope that helps.

  4. Selena on November 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Hey Hilah

    I was wondering if instead of the fruit juice and plain gelatine if you could use just like jello mixed with other stuff.

    Let me know as soon as you can

    • Hilah on November 12, 2014 at 10:11 am

      You probably could, Selena. But I can’t say for certain, and I don’t know how many packages it would take.

  5. Jamie H. on July 9, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I liked this concept so much I sent the recipe to all my brothers ans sisters. All 7 sis and 4 bros. I made some worms last year using tapioca flour. They didn’t come out so good. My memory isn’t what it used to be and I forgot a few steps. Once I find the recipe again I will share if any one is interested. I wrote it down step by step so I would not forget the most important one. I scared the missionaries who I had fixed a asian dinner for and the worms were the dessert. Thai beef salad, homemade egg rolls , fried won tons and the worms. Oh yes almost forget. My special dipping sauce for dipping the sweet(sticky) rice into. The won tons, egg rolls and the rice were a hit with the missionaries. My family is used to my cooking and they loved everything, even the sis in law who hates tapioca enjoyed my dessert. I shared all my recipes with my brother since I used his kitchen to cook everything up since I was visiting from out of town. As usual I wrote a story. Sorry.
    I wrote down all my recipes and made copies since I normal remember approx amounts to add to them, but as I said my memory is not what it used to be. And I wanted the recipes I shared to come out right for anyone else if they were to make them.

  6. Momma J on October 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I’m going to make these for my grown up son, who works in an ER, along with a “Brain Cake”.
    BTW, if anyone is using pineapple juice, it probably won’t set up, as the enzymes in pineapple destroy the gelatin properties.

    • Hilah on October 15, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      That will be fun for the ER department! 🙂 You’re right that fresh pineapple juice will prevent the gelatin from setting, but pasteurization kills off the problematic enzymes so a shelf-stable or frozen pineapple concentrate would still work.

  7. Chevonne on October 27, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Could you make them a couple days ahead of Halloween then leave in the fridge till you need them ?

    • Hilah on October 29, 2017 at 10:18 am

      They will be okay for a day or two

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