Boy oh boy oh boy, have I got an addictive snack for you.
Fruit leather. Which is simply the grown-up name for the Fruit Roll-Ups we had as kids.
(Do they even make those anymore?)
I longed to have Fruit Roll-Ups in my lunchbox but they were a rarity around our house. This, of course, made them even more desirable, nearly as desirable as candy, which is what they tasted like to me.
This homemade version is no different -- well, other than the fact that it is made with real fruit and no sugar. But it still tastes like candy.
And it's GOOD FOR YOU. I think that makes it freakin' fruit candy!
And addictive? That barely sums it up. I cannot stop eating these bad boys. I made the batch you see here with only apricots -- and it was fantastic. But I'm already dreaming about the different combinations I can concoct when my favorite fruits are in season. I'm dreaming a lot about blueberry-peach.
The basic recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. Regular readers will recognize it as the source of many great things from this site, including homemade ranch dressing and the best-evah cornbread.
A couple of notes before you scroll down to the recipe:
- I made my leathers in a dehydrator -- if you don't own one, you're short-changing yourself -- but they can also be made in a conventional oven. It just takes much, much longer and isn't nearly as efficient, especially if your oven doesn't go below 200 degrees.
- An offset spatula, generally used for icing cakes, makes spreading the fruit mixture evenly a total breeze. I've tried it using a regular spatula and it's a bit of a pain.
- Sizing the leather is easy. The fruit rounds are dried on parchment paper so, once leathery, you can simply cut the parchment and leather together into strips, roll them up and secure with a little piece of scotch tape.
- In terms of storage, you won't have to worry too much about it because you will eat them all quickly. Not kidding. But to start out with, just store the rolls in a big mason jar (plastic containers tend to make them too soft).
Do you love fruit leathers? What flavor combinations would you try? The Ninj wants to know.
Fruit Leather (adapted from Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry)
Approx. 3 pounds of fruit, fresh or frozen (Fruits with pits should be pitted but there's no need to peel anything. Just cut everything into manageable chunks.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup honey (or more to taste)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
Put the fruit and lemon juice in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until all the fruit has broken down (roughly 15 minutes). Using an immersion blender, puree until as smooth as possible. Stir in the honey and applesauce (feel free to add more honey if you like).
Line several baking sheets (if using the oven) or dehydrator trays with parchment paper. Pour some of the puree onto the sheet and spread it very thinly using an offset or regular spatula. Aim for about a 1/8-inch thickness or as thin as you can get it without the parchment being exposed.
Dehydrator: Dry at 135 degrees (or whatever temperature the manufacturer of your machine recommends for fruits) until completely dry but not hard. This took about 8-9 hours in my Excalibur but it will depend on how thinly your puree has been spread.
Oven: Dry at your oven's lowest temperature setting for at least 12 hours (will likely take much longer) or until completely dry but not hard (sorry I can't give you a better estimate here).
Once cooled, cut through the parchment and leather together with kitchen shears into 3-inch strips, roll up and secure with a small piece of tape. Store in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. To eat, simply peel the leather from the parchment paper. YUM!