Fruit leather is one of those foods that — once you realize how incredibly easy it is to make yourself — you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Other than a long stint in the oven, there is little labor involved, no special equipment, and sky’s-the-limit in terms of flavor possibilities! I love that you can control the sweetness too, and use whatever fruits you have on-hand (or an excess of).
Best of all, much like roasting, dehydrating concentrates flavors and enhances a fruit’s natural sweetness — making even the most lackluster produce taste rich and delicious!
I’m going to take you step-by-step through the process, and share one of my favorite recipes to get you started! As the basic technique is the same, I have no doubt you’ll be creating your own “custom” blends in no time!
Step 1. Prep your fruit
If you’re starting with applesauce or canned pumpkin, no prep is necessary. But fresh fruit needs to be chopped, pitted, and in the case of apples and stone fruits, peeled!
Those stone fruits, peaches in particular, can be mighty tricky to peel, but I have a quick and easy shortcut! Cut an “X” in the bottoms of the fruits. Submerge each peach in boiling water for 30 seconds; removed with a slotted spoon and run under cold water. The skins will slip right off!
Step 2. Puree the fruit
Next, puree your fruit(s) and sweeteners and other ingredients until smooth. If using strawberries, you can strain the seeds if you like.
Step 3. Bake until dehydrated
After you’ve cooked your mixture down (to eliminate much of the moisture), you’re ready to bake. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or piece of parchment paper, shake the pan to level, and bake. Depending on your fruit, this will take anywhere from 3-5 hours.
How do you know when the fruit leather is ready? When it is just slightly sticky but not dry.
Cool fruit leather for about 10 minutes. If you lined your baking sheet with parchment paper, you can cut the dried fruit into your desired shapes. If you used a Silpat, place a sheet of parchment paper (cut to the size of your baking sheet) on your work surface. Carefully invert the fruit and Silpat onto the parchment and peel the Silpat away.
Step 4. Package and prepare!
You can cut the fruit leather into rectangles (about 8 per sheet) or “roll-ups” (about 13 per sheet.)
Tie the rolls with a little baker’s twine and they’re ready to go!
Fruit leather keeps very well in an airtight container. Toss a few in a lunchbox or cooler for a homemade “fruit snack” you can feel good about!
I particularly love a spring-meets-fall version, which takes end of the season apples and pairs them with early spring strawberries. A little tart, a little sweet, and naturally sweetened with honey!
Strawberry-Apple Fruit Leather
adapted from Foodlets
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 hours
1 lb. strawberries, stemmed
1 apple (use any that you have on-hand), peeled and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 T. honey
1. Pre-heat oven to 170. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Place strawberries, apple and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Puree till mixture is smooth and uniform. Transfer to a small saucepan and add the honey. Heat to boiling and simmer for about 20 minutes, till somewhat reduced. Pour onto your prepared baking sheet; shake the pan to level.
2. Bake until dehydrated, about 3 hours (puree should be just slightly sticky but not dry). Let cool for 10 minutes.
3. If you lined your baking sheet with parchment you can cut the dried fruit into desired shapes. If you used a Silpat, place a sheet of parchment (cut to the size of your baking sheet) on your work surface. Carefully invert the fruit and Silpat onto the parchment and peel the Silpat away.
4. Cut into eight rectangles, or about 13 crosswise “strips.” Roll up with the parchment and tie with twine or baker’s string. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.