Good morning! As our week’s weather looms large and lousy, I’ve decided it’s time for a fruit roll up/leather marathon. I am blessed to have kids who want to learn to cook and I think their wives will thank me one day. Fruit leather is something my boys love helping with this and all of us love to eat it.
It’s easy and a healthy alternative to store bought, over processed snack items. I also like
the idea of knowing whose hands have touched my food…unless you’re working with Andrew and forgot to remind him to wash his hands. This can actually be quite terrifying since he’s 10 and can get pretty darn dirty. Luckily, his almost 13-year-old brother, Daniel is there to play second mommy if I forget.
Anyway, you can use almost any fruit, but remember that with grapes, you would want to run them through a food mill. The following is a recipe I’ve played with, but there is no truly wrong way to do this. Sometimes we even do just straight applesauce.
Fruit Leather Straps
3 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
Place the strawberries and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and test fruit to make sure it’s softened and taste to determine sweetness so you can adjust your sugar as needed.
Mash the strawberries with a potato masher, or get sick of that and grab your immersion blender like I did, then add the sugar and lemon juice, adjusting for more or less sweetness as needed with the sugar, and to enhance the fruit flavor with the lemon juice. Simmer on medium to medium-high for about 5 more minutes.
Add the applesauce and check your sugar and lemon juice once more. Simmer an additional five minutes.
Remove from heat and prepare your trays, allowing the fruit mixture to cool slightly to avoid scalding burns which can dampen the pleasure of any cooking experience.
Line the trays of a food dehydrator with heat tolerant (microwave safe) plastic wrap. DO NOT USE WAX PAPER. You will be chewing papery gum or just have to toss it since the fruit mix will fuse to the wax paper. Yes, I’ve done this at least three times.
Place a thin layer (1/8 to 1/4 inch) of the fruit mix onto the trays and run them in the dehydrator for a few hours, being careful not to burn. The leather is finished when it is not soft to the touch or sticky and will peel right off the plastic wrap.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A DEHYDRATOR you can do your fruit in the oven. Line cookie sheets with heat safe plastic wrap and pour a thin (1/8 to 1/4 inch) layer of the fruit mixture into it, being sure that the plastic wrap doesn’t fold over onto the fruit so it can’t dry.
Place in a 140 degree oven, or a convection oven and let dry 8 – 12 hours, until the surface is no longer wet or sticky.
You can roll the leather up in the plastic wrap for storage…if it lasts long enough.