Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fruit leather

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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!


  1. This looks amazing! I don't own a dehydrator, but I'm still tempted to try this this summer. Thanks for reminding me of Alana's recipe! :)

  2. Loved those growing up! Not sure I could run my oven for 12 hours. Might have to consider a dehydrator for the wish list...

    1. There are lots of affordable options, dehydrator-wise. You won't regret it!!

  3. Having trouble with the leather sticking to the paper. Any ideas or suggestions welcome.

    1. Are you using parchment paper? If you are, you may be spreading the edges a little TOO thinly. Try leaving a slightly thicker edge, which will allow you to get a better grip on it to pull it off. Hope this helps!

  4. My wife totaly messed this up (hence the Anonymous post). Granted, she can not cook - I do that, she mows the lawn - progressive by proxy - but she gave this a shot with the little ones as a fun rainy day project. She made leather blocks, leather paper, leather shrinky-dinks, everything but something we could eat. I watched her process, she was good there, I looked at her filling, good there. I checked her parchment, perfect... I watched her set up the dehydrator - found the problem... We have a round, cheep dehydrator, it works great - if you do things correctly. Her spatula skills are poor.
    The FIX: I took an old spatula and trimmed 1/8" from 90% of the blade. Now she has a guide to use that keeps the goo from the center of the dehydrator, and makes the leather the correct thickness. The kids now think she is the best cook on the planet (it's fruit candy...) as I watch, perched on the counter with my apron on, Bat-Man'esque waiting for the next cooking dram in my little kitchen Gotham....

    1. LMAO!!! Best comment ever! I'm so glad you found a fix -- this is exactly why I recommend an offset spatula. It helps you get the right thickness easily. Thanks for sharing your experience and kudos to you and your wife for sticking to it (no pun intended).

  5. I appreciate this, the only thing I did different was tilt the trays back and forth to even out the fruit on the parchment paper. Outstanding recipe. Thanks

  6. How long will these keep? Do they need to be kept refrigerated?