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Fruit Leathers

July 13, 2010

Last night I made a batch of fruit leathers and was immediately thrown back to my childhood of homemade snacks.  As kids my brother and I ate so many snacky things like fruit roll ups and the like.  Appalled by how much they cost my mother started to make homemade snacks (like fruit leathers and granola bars) for us. Amelia following in her mother’s footsteps also loves fruity snacks. I have limited her “fruit” snacks at home to raisins and other dried fruits, but she LOVES the fruit snacks and leathers from grandma.  Sweet, chewy, stick to your teeth yet melt in your mouth deliciousness.  Fruit leathers are a great way to use up over ripe fruits and berries (and even veggies!). What is great about making leathers is there is no one way to do it. But there are a couple of tips which can help make your leathers turn out more consistently.

Equipment needed

  • Shallow pans (about 12 by 17 inches)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Electric blender or food mill
  • Large saucepan for concentrating/ cooking the purée

Many fruits are suitable for fruit leather, including apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, oranges, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes.

Figure 2 cups of purée will fill a standard 10- by 15-inch rimmed baking sheet.

 Making Fruit Leathers : Four Steps

1. Strain cooked, canned, or over ripe raw fruit through a food mill or purée it in a blender (I used my magic bullet) until it is smooth. If needed add juice or water to make the mixture pourable.

Concentrate the purée. You can concentrate juicy purée to shorten the drying time. Place the ground or puréed fruit in a heavy, deep saucepan. Cook the purée over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool.

2. Line a rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with tin foil and then with plastic wrap. Tip: tuck the plastic wrap under the tin foil to hold it in place. Spread the purée approx. 1/4 inch thick.

3. You may use a dehydrator. I don’t have one so I don’t know much about this method. I used my oven. Set the oven on the lowest setting, and prop the door open with a pot holder or a wooden spoon to let moisture escape. (The opening will vary from a 1/2-inch crack for electric ovens up to 8 inches for gas ovens.)  Maintain the oven temp at 140°F during drying, so it’s best to use an oven thermometer. Don’t worry too much about this, you just don’t want to burn the purée.  Turn and rotate the pans each hour or two. Drying time will vary from 4 to 8 hours depending on the temperature, humidity, and type and amount of purée. It is done when it can be easily pulled from the plastic wrap. It will be slightly tacky and not contain any moisture.

4. To store, roll up in wax paper or plastic wrap.  If you want bite-size pieces for snacks, cut 1-inch slices from a rolled leather with a pizza cutter. Wrap, twist the ends and store in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

You may be looking for a particular recipe here. I’ll let you in on what I did and what my mom used to do.

Banana raspberry leathers: I pureed 4 OVER ripe bananas with a pint of OVER ripe raspberries, reduced on the stove and dried in the oven. I would in retrospect strained the raspberry seeds out.

Peach blueberry : I pureed one can of peaches in juice and two handfuls of fresh blueberries. I didn’t concentrate it or cook it. Turned out great.

Veggie leather:  I haven’t made this one but I am curious! For a vegetable leather, try pizza. Blend one 15-ounce can of stewed tomatoes (drained) with one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional). Pour the purée on a drying tray and sprinkle with leaf oregano, leaf basil, and garlic salt for a taste treat.

Pear: One of my faves as a kid! I think my mom used canned pears. SO SO good!

Let me know what combos you come up with!

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