Everyday Chemistry from A to Z

All life is chemistry: G like gummy bears

Who hasn't been accompanied by gummy bears, cola bottles and the like throughout their childhood? But what makes fruit gums so appealing to children and adults?

It is hard to imagine supermarket shelves without fruit and wine gums. They come in different varieties, flavours, shapes, colours, sweet or sour, vegan or with animal gelatine. All varieties have one thing in common - they make children's hearts beat faster. 
Adults also like the taste of the fruity gummy sweets, as the assortment is very broad, which means that the ideal fruit gummy flavour can be found for every palate.

What are gummy bears made of?

Originally, the first gummy bears were made in the 1920s from gum arabic, the resin of acacia trees. This gave the sweets their characteristic consistency. Nowadays, other ingredients are used in most cases to achieve the gummy, chewy consistency.

From a well-known manufacturer we know which ingredients are most commonly found in fruit gums:
Glucose syrup, sugar, water, gelatine and dextrose. In addition, depending on the flavour, there are the respective fruit juices from fruit juice concentrates as well as plant concentrates. In addition to acidifiers such as citric, lactic or tartaric acid and various flavourings, the following coating agents must not be missing from these delicious sweets: Beeswax and carnauba wax make the sweets shine.

Since gelatine mainly comes from pigs, there are also gelatine-free products for vegetarians, vegans and people who do not consume pork products, which contain pectins or other animal product-free alternatives.

Do wine gums actually contain alcohol?

No. Wine gums are made with real white wine or tartaric acid. However, they still do not contain alcohol in the finished product, as it gradually evaporates during the manufacturing process.

And what does chemistry have to do with it?

In order to make gummy sweets, it takes different processes based on the fundamentals of chemistry.

Sugar, syrup and water are mixed and brought to the appropriate concentration. In most cases this is done by boiling under vacuum, but it can also be done without boiling, but by persistent mixing. The thickening agent gelatine or gum arabic is only boiled in briefly, as this temperature-sensitive ingredient would otherwise be damaged. Acids, flavourings and colourings are also usually only added towards the end of the preparation.

This produces a thick mass from which the sweets can be poured into any shape. The starch casting method is usually used here, whereby the mould is pressed into a layer of starch powder and filled with the sugar mass.

After the sweets have dried and solidified, the starch is sieved off.
The solidified gumdrops are then treated with steam, dried and get their shiny surface by this or by coating with beeswax or vegetable wax. "Sour" varieties are rolled in granulated sugar and then dried again.

Donauchem GmbH
More informationen/Sources:
Haribo.com - 11.04.2022
Bringmeister.de  - 11.04.2022
Gummibonbons Wikipedia  - 11.04.2022


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