Ashby Confections sour fruit strips
Food & Drink

Ashby Confections Makes Sour Candy from Local Fruit

Ashby Confections takes a different approach

Jennifer Ashby of Ashby Confections with her Sour Fruit Strips, made from just five local ingredients. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

Lacking a robust sweet tooth, I was pretty picky about candy as a kid, and have become even more discerning as an adult. I usually prefer a piece of chocolate on the rare occasion that I crave something sugary.

But a bag of assorted Sour Fruit Strips from Ashby Confections may have awakened a sweet side of me I didn’t know I had—although they are pretty sour, too.

The zingy sunset-colored candies ($2.75/ounce) are packed with intense flavors like strawberry rhubarb, golden apricot and kiwi, and they seem to glow with the warmth of tree-ripened fruit sourced directly from farmers markets.

Best of all, these candies contain only five (reasonably wholesome) ingredients: fresh local organic fruit, cane sugar, glucose, pectin and citric acid—which is fantastic, because even if the kid inside of me is delighted to be eating candy, seeing a laundry list of indecipherable chemicals on the back of a package kills, with a bolt of processed lightning, whatever craving adult me was trying to satisfy.

Jennifer Ashby, the mastermind behind this fruity treat, also says that the gummies contain no GMOs and are vegan, and soon will be using only certified organic ingredients. You can’t get much more “mother approved” than that.

These sour fruit strips got their beginning as a happy accident, after a batch of fruit candy was left to sit out too long. After some tweaking and experimentation, they have become Ashby’s most popular product. Inspired by the ultra-beautiful fruit found year round at local markets and her relationships with farmers, Ashby has tried every seasonal flavor she can get her hands on, from Malaysian guava and Concord grapes to peach and Santa Rosa plum. Her Sour Fruit Strips made with fresh oranges were a finalist for a Good Food Award in 2015.

“I’ve always loved fruity candy. That was my favorite thing when I was a little kid,” says Ashby. “People of all ages appreciate candy, and even those that claim to not like fruity stuff love these.”

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Lily Stoicheff is a writer living in Santa Cruz, California, where she mostly spends her time exploring food culture and telling its stories. A fermentation and craft beer enthusiast, her house is overflowing with jars of things that look gross but she swears are delicious. She is the 2017 NEXTie Honoree for Best Writer and a 2017 CNPA Award Winner.

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