Joe: On this episode of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast,” it’s the next part of our “Gummy Central” series and we’re getting right to the inside of the gummy. We explore gelatin and pectin and why manufacturers may choose one over the other, and what the benefits are of each. It’s the battle of the gummies on this episode of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast,” and it starts right now.

I’m Joe Agostinelli, host of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast.” And if you’re a returning listener, thanks for joining us once again. If you haven’t done so already, please do subscribe to our podcast. Hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts, and you can catch full video episodes on YouTube.

Pectin and gelatin, two of the most popular ingredients when it comes to gummies, and when you manufacture millions of gummies every day like we do, why not bring it to folks who know all about what goes into each one of those gummies. It’s the latest of our “Gummy Central” podcast series.

Senior formulation specialist Sara Brown is back on the podcast. New title, but it’s the same Sara, she’s back, welcome back. And on…making her first appearance on our podcast is our innovation manager, Ashley Huber, welcome to you both. Ashley, welcome to your first podcast appearance. I know you’re doing great.

Ashley: Thanks. Thank you for having me.

Joe: So, let’s get right to it. Pectin, and gelatin, and gummies. As the popularity of gummies has exploded recently, consumers are paying more attention to ingredients. So when we’re talking gelatin or pectin, is this the gelling agent in cooking gummies, or where does it come along in gummies?

Ashley: That’s correct. The pectin or the gelatin is the main thing in the gummies that’s helping keep them congealed together. So it’s giving it its texture and holding all of the ingredients in there, giving a nice taste to the gummy we make together.

Joe: And what’s the benefits from using one or the other? I mean, there’s manufacturers who use gelatin, there are some who use pectin, are there reasons for using both?

Ashley: Well, it’s more of a texture preference. Pectin tends to hold more of a firm texture, where gelatin is more jelly based. Kike Jell-O is more like a gelatin.

Joe: Like a mold type of feel.

Sara: It’s a little more Jell-O-like, so the bite is a little harder to chew. Gelatin is a little harder to chew sometimes. Pectin gummies are a little easier for your teeth to kind of cut through a little bit. So sometimes people have a preference on either a harder gummy or a softer gummy, and you can kind of play with the textures with the differences between the gelatin and the pectin.

Joe: And then on the pectin side, correct me if I’m wrong, but for a vegan gummy, like our Hemp Bombs Botanical Blend gummies which are our first vegan, you can only use pectin, correct, because it isn’t animal-based?

Ashley: Yeah. To make a vegan claim, you got to have no gelatin in the formula. It is made from either bovine or pig. Basically, cartilage is where the gelatin is coming from. So to give a vegan claim to gummies, we like to use the pectin because it comes from only usually citrus or apple bases. This is where pectin is derived.

Joe: Does using the pectin because of where it comes from restrict the flavors, or can you still use just about any flavor when it comes to a pectin-based gummy?

Ashley: Well, pectin actually tends to use a little bit more sugar, so it does taste a little bit better, and you have to add a little bit more flavor, too, so it does actually hold flavor a little bit more. But with gelatin, it kind of has a little bit more bland flavor.

Sara: Yeah, you have to up the flavor a tad more in a gelatin gummy because it doesn’t express as well on your tongue as a pectin gummy will. So you can get a better flavor out of a pectin gummy generally.

Joe: And on our previous episodes, as part of our “Gummy Central” series, we often discussed, and we just mentioned, is the taste, the texture, and color, does using one ingredient over the other outside of texture affect, you know, maybe, the color or some other part of the gummy?

Ashley: One of the things it can affect is the actives that we’re choosing to use. Depending on what we wanna get out of the gummy, we might choose to use a pectin or a gelatin because it will have less interaction with that gelling agent. Some of our more difficult actives can cause the pectin to have, you know, problems gelling, but you could throw any active basically into a gelatin gummy and it’s going to form okay.

Joe: Are there any instances where maybe both pectin and gelatin are used in a gummy?

Ashley: Yeah. We will never make a gelatin gummy without pectin, because gelatin has a really low melting temperature. It tends to melt at body temperature. When shipping, we wanna make sure that we can get the gummy’s melting temp as high as possible, and the pectin inside of a gelatin gummy is always going to give us just a few more degrees to keep it from melting. You can go from 90-something to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit melting temperature so that when you transport it, you have a little less likelihood of it melting.

Joe: And though we often see new formulations of gummies, is it easier to reformulate one type of gummy over another, whether it’s gelatin or pectin-based?

Ashley: Gelatin, you can always rework. If there’s ever any issue, you can reheat it up, melt it back down, kind of reformulate it. Pectin, you can’t do that. So if you mess it up, you got to start over all the way from the beginning. However, with gelatin, you can kind of play around with it.

However, back to the question we’re just talking about, if a customer wants a pectin-based gummy, you have to learn to work with those actives. I actually just had a gummy, it was our Forever Well gummy, that we wanted to be pectin-based, whether it was just for the vegan aspect or not, but I was working with the branched-chain amino acid. And I had to play around with that pectin level and those amino acids and just find that sweet balance just to make it work, just for the texture-wise and those amino acids, and figure out a way to make it set at room temperature.

Sara: Those amino acids have a really weird pH thing going on, so getting it to get to the right low pH to get them to set gave her a little bit of a challenge.

Ashley: Yeah. And, that firmness, that mouth feel, the texture, it was difficult.

Sara: Yeah. You want it to be nice and pleasant in your mouth. Sometimes, you play around with it, the pectin could come out a little funky. So to get it to the right nice, smooth, clean bite, yeah, it’s like I said, she got them…she nailed it.

Joe: See how quick she learned. We will have more on Forever Well Nutrition on a future episode of the podcast, so please stay tuned to our podcast where we talk to her. You know, her first appearance so we’re good. That brings up an interesting follow-up question, are there certain active ingredients that are maybe harder to work with gelatin than they do with pectin or vice versa?

Sara: GABA tends to be a pretty difficult one to get to a pectin gummy. We found a few things. Magnesium is really difficult to get into a pectin gummy. But, you’re usually going to have more issues with the pectin gummy and actives than you are going to with the gelatin gummy.

Ashley: Pectin requires you to use acid to get it to set. So typically anything that has a really basic pH, like GABA, it smells like Fritos, which is awesome, but the pH was high. It really, really makes it hard to work with. If you have a gummy that requires you to use pectin, you’re really going to battle getting that right balance of pH and having to use those active ingredients.

Sara: Yeah. And it also affects the flavor, too. You have to add so much acid in to get it to the right pH to set. It can make a really sour gummy, which is good for some flavors and types of gummies, but maybe not necessarily for others. So, again, you have to balance that flavor out as well.

Ashley: Good luck using vitamin C in a pectin gummy, because it’s going to be so sour.

Sara: Or, getting it to set or trying to pour it before getting it to set, she’s going gel up on you immediately. It’s super acidic. So, it’s the opposite effect, using something very acidic can also cause a problem just as something super basic kind of also causes a problem.

Joe: So let me ask you this is a follow-up, when we talk about the pH, is there a basic…whether you use gelatin or pectin, is there a ballpark pH level you’re looking to get to for any type of gummy no matter what it is?

Ashley: Yeah, we do. We measure pH right before we pour it in the mold. We typically look for…

Sara: Between 3 to 3.5 occasionally, sometimes a little higher than that for pectin. And then it always has to be below at least 4, 4 and a half to at least be preserved properly so it’s not going to have any shelf-life issues. So it goes to say it’s like, for pectin, they’re a little lower, around 3 and 3 and a half or so. For a gelatin, it’s probably going to be maybe 3.5 to 4 or so, because it just needs to be low enough to be preserved. And obviously, the acid helps with the flavor as well.

Ashley: But that’s also if your brix value is right where it needs to be as well, too. Because if that isn’t right and your pH doesn’t match for your brix, it’s also going to set either.

Sara: Of course, yeah.

Joe: Now we’re getting sciency, so a follow-up question. I’ve got another one. I’m learning all about gummies, that’s great. That’s why we call it “Gummy Central.”

Ashley: …and you have your actives right, pH and brix…

Sara: pH and brix got to be in the right places.

Joe: So what’s the brix?

Ashley: I knew you were going to ask me that. Sarah, you…

Sara: The final gummy brixes are always usually going to be around 78 to 82. So you have to cook it sometimes higher before adding your actives which might bring it down a little bit. So it might get up to like 84, and then you could add your actives to come down around 80. Generally, if finalized, a gummy would probably average around 80 brix.

Ashley: But it just depends what it is. Yesterday, I was making an oil-based gummy, and that needs to be way higher. But brix is kind of like the measurement of the amount of solids that are in your gummy. So you’re basically measuring the amount of solids and the pH level. Those just all have to be in balance before you can pour your gummy because that’s just going to tell you if that’s going to set or not.

So pectin versus gelatin, your actives, and the pH, and the amount of solids, all of that comes into play if you wanna get a gummy or not. And we all have to make sure that that’s going to happen if you want to do it out there.

Sara: Got to balance the levels already to get the perfect gummy.

Joe: Yeah, exactly. Lot of science behind it. Yeah, no, that’s…

Sara: You like a challenge?

Joe: Well, very good, lots of great information. So you did a great job, Ashley. We’re good. Formulator Sara Brown, actually senior formulation specialist, Sarah Brown, and innovation manager, Ashley Huber, my guest on this episode of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast.” Thank you both for joining me. We got the studio all decked out for the holidays so holiday wishes to you guys and both your families.

And, for a more behind-the-scenes look at “Gummy Central” and how gummies are made, visit our YouTube channel and Global Widget and both the YouTube channels of our brands. You can also catch up on past episodes of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast” with full video episodes on YouTube or on the audio version. Hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcast for notifications of new episodes each week. I’m Joe Agostinelli, host of the “CPG and CBD University Podcast.” Thanks for tuning in.

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