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Sometimes when I buy (cheap) gummy candy, it's a little too hard to enjoy. Is there a way to soften them? Preferably something that lasts, as opposed to perhaps heating them and eating them while they're warm.

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Not quite what you asked, but if you don't mind changing them to a slightly more adult treat, you can put them in a bowl and add just enough vodka to cover them. Let them sit in the fridge for about 48 hours. The vodka will be absorbed, they will swell and be significantly softer. They'll also have a slight alcoholic kick that goes away over the next day or two as they cure. – Matthew Nov 17 '14 at 21:47
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Gummy candy is essentially just water, sugar, gelatin, and a few other additives like food colouring.

Gelatin's gel strength1 is partially dependent on its concentration. The more concentrated, the harder it gets. Gummy candies left sitting around will lose water due to evaporation, which makes the gelatin more concentrated and thus harder, and if you watch carefully you'll notice that the moisture loss also makes the gummies shrink.

To soften them, you need to rehydrate them. Toss them in a bowl of hot or warm water (don't use cold water - gelatin is only soluble in warmer water) until they reach the desired consistency - usually around 20 minutes or so. The longer you leave them in the water, the more water they'll absorb, the more they'll grow and the softer they'll get.

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I've done what Aaronut suggests in the past, the only thing I'll add is that if you aren't going to eat them then, toss them on a drying rack for a little while so the outer surface dries before packing them back into a bag. Otherwise they'll stick to each other and turn into a congealed concrete like mass. This is especially true with gummy worms. They were almost impossible to get apart. – cabbey Nov 8 '10 at 21:55
depending on who is consuming you can use rum instead of water, that is the only experience i have with hydrating gummies. They do stick terribly if you don't let them dry before re-packing. – Manako Nov 8 '10 at 22:11
How warm should the water be? I tried it but my gummy bears melted and ended up half the size and they were only slightly softer. – Brian Ortiz Nov 10 '10 at 18:22
@Brian: I think you made it too warm. :P I guess this partly depends on the actual gummies, but try starting with a temperature just above tepid and try just a few gummies as a test. It is possible, though unlikely, that your gummies weren't made with very much gelatin to begin with, so it might not take much to dissolve them outright. – Aaronut Nov 10 '10 at 23:51

I think it takes approximately three hours for chewy candy to become a soluble in water

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Put em in your pocket! They get warm and squishy after five minutes or so.

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This would be a temporary warming solution, which the question specifically avoids. – SourDoh Jan 29 '14 at 15:49

Try stick a piece of bread in the bag, I use this to soften my cookies

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