Introduction: Fruit Leather
Have you ever had an abundant crop of something, and you just couldn’t eat them quick enough. Making fruit leather (think fruit roll ups from long ago) is a great way to use up a lot of fruit and end up with a healthy and tasty snack that will keep for as long as you keep from eating it. The following recipe can be made with any kind of fruit puree: peach, apple, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, mango, etc.
Step 1: Select the Fruit:
I chose fresh strawberries for this batch. I started with about a quart and a half of strawberries.
I've found that fruit that has stronger flavor tends to taste better. I've gotten good results from strawberries, cherries, peach, raspberries and blackberries.
Step 2: Puree the Fruit
Making strawberry puree after washing and hulling the berries.
Step 3: Removing Seeds
I’ve found that seeds (especially from something like blackberries, raspberries and strawberries) is a little distracting. So it is like making jelly. This step isn't necessary for other fruits like peaches, mango, or apples.
You could take the strained fruit puree and make leather from that, but I like to cook the fruit to stop any enzymatic processes that could cause the fruit to develop off flavors over time. Cooking also ensures that there are no pathogens so the final product will store for a long time without spoiling. It also helps to evaporate some of the liquid from the puree. Add a pat of butter to minimize foaming. Heat over low to medium heat. You will want to stir constantly to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn.
Step 5: Reduced Puree
This is the reduced fruit jelly ready to be sweetened. You’ll want at least a quart of fruit jelly to cover a 11x13 jelly roll pan.
Step 6: Sweeten the Puree
How much sweetener depends on how sweet the fruit is and your taste. You can use granulated sugar, honey, stevia or agave nectar. I added about 3 tablespoons of white sugar, but you always want to add some honey to help keep the end product a little flexible. I have access to raw honey. So I added the honey after the jelly has had a chance to cool to almost room temp. You don't want to cook raw honey.
Step 7: Pour the Puree Onto a Jelly Roll
Line a jelly roll pan with a silicon baking mat. You can use parchment paper, but parchment will pucker up and you will get leather that is uneven in thickness. You can use a very good non-stick jelly roll pan, but if for some reason the leather is just a little sticky or it gets over cooked a bit, then you could lose the entire batch. Trust me, you want to spend the $10-$15 on the silicon mat. It’s worth it. Pour your fruit jelly over the silicon mat.
Step 8: Fruit Puree Ready for Drying
Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to smooth out the fruit jelly. Don’t worry if the fruit touches the sides of the jelly roll. It’s inevitable. Once the fruit is evenly spread out, give the pan a little jiggle just to settle things that last little bit.
Step 9: Drying the Fruit Puree
Turn on your oven to its lowest setting. Mine is 170 F. There's no need to preheat. Put you pan on the oven and set your timer for 6 hours. Yep you read correctly 6 hours. It will probably take longer than 6 hours especially if you didn't cook your fruit first. Check it after 6 hours to see if the fruit leather is done. If it is not done, leave it in for another hour or two, and then check again. Keep drying out the leather is no longer soft to the touch. It shouldn't pull up when you touch it with your finger. It might be a little sticky, but it should feel tough and leathery.
Step 10: Dried Fruit Leather
I let mine "dry" overnight. This is what it looks like when it's done. It will be a little sticky and firm to the touch. It will not be soft or change shape when you press on it.
Step 11: Lifting Silicon Mat
Peel the silicon mat off of the baking sheet. The sides will be stuck where the fruit touched the pan. You can try to separate the edges with a knife, but I find that the silicon mat makes it possible to lift everything out with just a little effort.
Step 12: Peeling Fruit Leather Off of Silicon Mat
This is where the silicon mat really pays off. The fruit letter will just pull right off very easily.
Step 13: Fruit Leather Ready to Be Cut
Ta-da! One sheet of fruit leather ready to be cut into strips
Step 14: Cutting Fruit Leather Into Strips
I use a metal ruler and a pizza cutter to cut the fruit leather into strips, but you could free hand the cuts if you wanted to. I cut this batch into ~1" strips and a few squares for sampling.
Step 15: Rolling Up the Fruit Leather
The next to last step is to cut strips of parchment paper approximately the same width as the leather strips. I lay a leather strip on one edge of the parchment paper, and then take scissors and run them up the other side. Roll up the fruit leather with the parchment paper. This will make it easier to peel and eat later. You may be tempted to use wax paper. Don't. Wax paper will stick to the fruit leather to the point where you can't peel it off nicely. It will tear and stick to the leather and you'll end up picking at it a long time or you'll end up eating some wax paper.
Store in an airtight container. You'll want to keep you fruit leather away from humidity as it will absorb moisture and become less like leather and more like mush.
Step 16: Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
The last step is to enjoy your fruit leather if you haven't sampled some already. Enjoy!
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