Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Storage Friday: fruit leather

Thanks to the nifty NESCO dehydrator I now own, I thought I'd try out making fruit leather. Fruit leather is very similar to Fruit Roll-Ups in that they both are sweet, thin, and pliable. Other than that, the similarities stop there. There are no alarmingly purple colors, Buzz Lightyear cut-outs, or super-sweet taste, although that the latter is entirely up to you. The only downside in my view is that the fruit leather, while pliable and soft, can't stretch long distances the way that Fruit Roll-Ups do.

Homemade fruit leather tastes pretty great and is easy-peasy to make. The instruction manual informs me that you can use almost any fruit, combining them, etc. You can use fresh fruit, canned (drain first), or frozen, although frozen tends to be more liquidy. It also suggests combining very juicy fruits, like oranges, in combination with fruits with more fiber and substance (like applesauce) so that it won't be so runny.

If your dehydrator doesn't come with one of these nifty trays, I've read online that you can use parchment paper. I also read that wax paper does not work.

Grease your tray/parchment paper lightly with oil.

I used about 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce and added a scant tablespoon of agave to sweeten it, just in case it needed it. You don't have to use agave--I just had bought some on clearance and thought I'd be cool. The flavor is mild--you can use honey or sugar. My dehydrator booklet informs me that any added sweetener can make the fruit leather more brittle when stored, however.

Following the lead from Fix Me a Snack (which has some nice pics and other recipes for fruit leather), I pureed some raspberries and added about 1 teaspoon of agave to them to add some fun color and taste to the leather. In hindsight, I should have strained them or picked something else because the seeds were definitely noticeable at the end.

Spread the fruit mixture about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick, trying to be as even as possible. Try to make yours prettier than mine. I used about 1 1/2 cups, I think.

Dehydrate the leather at 130 to 140 degrees (I used 135) for 4-8 hours. It took me about five. The fruit leather is done when it feels like leather and comes off the tray without falling apart.

Ta-dah! You can see how the seeds are pretty obtrusive.

Slice them into rolls with a rolling pin and wrap them up. Store them in an air-tight container.

These tasted really nice, although the raspberries were a bit tart. Next time I'd either add more sugar or just use a sweeter fruit.

All in all, these are surprisingly easy. I haven't tested them on my five-year-old yet, but I imagine they'll be a success.


Unknown said...

That sounds yummy! Now I just need a dehydrator, in addition to the wheat grinder I need, and a few other self-reliance items. It might be a while.

TK said...

How fun to see you doing this too! Had help with canning pears and my helper over processed a batch while I was on a store run.

Was able to save the now mushy pears by making fruit leather in my NESCO. They turned out beautiful!

My second batch was made from unprocessed pears and turned out way more tart, even after adding corn syrup. In part of the batch added hot cinnamon candy.

YUM! The whole family loves the leather and will be putting some in 72-hour kits.