Bags of homegrown berries and other fruit make up much of my seasonal freezer stash. Even at the height of summer, I can find time to spread fruit on a tray, slide it into the freezer until firm and then bag it and stick it back in the freezer to ignore until needed. Most often, it ends up in smoothies for me, desserts and pastries for friends and food gifts for family – even the youngest members.
I started making fruit leather for my niece and nephew before they could read the tags on the bundles. It’s so popular it now makes their Christmas and birthday wish lists. They always request their favorite flavors, which I’m sharing here.
Their parents appreciate the homemade fruit leather too, because it relies on the fruit itself for sweetness. Applesauce forms a thickening base, and it can have little or no sugar if you make your own. I sneak chia seeds into some flavors but don’t mix them with already-seedy fruit, like raspberries.
Fresh and frozen berries work equally well. I’ll even pit, halve and freeze plums to turn into midwinter batches. When using frozen fruit, I defrost and drain it before blending for a thicker puree.
The ratios create pourable purees that flow little on their own but spread evenly with the help of a spatula. How much you use per tray will depend on the size and shape of your dehydrator. I typically start with a scant cup of puree for each tray and then see if I can spread it evenly across the whole surface, only adding more if I the dryer sheet remains visible through the fruit.
Homemade Fruit Leather: Most Requested
Makes 12-15 rolls
2-1/2 cups applesauce
2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen and defrosted blueberries
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1-1/4 pounds plums (about 3 cups pitted and chopped)
1-1/4 cups applesauce
3 cups applesauce
2 cups fresh or frozen and defrosted raspberries
2-1/2 cups applesauce
2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen and defrosted strawberries
Puree the ingredients for your chosen flavor combination in a food processor or blender, adjusting for thickness and taste. Pour the puree onto dryer sheets set on your dehydrator trays, spreading it as smoothly as possible with a spatula. Dehydrate at your machine’s fruit setting (usually 125°F to 145°F) for eight to 24 hours, until the puree is leathery.
Gently pull the fruit leather off of the dryer sheets, cutting it into appropriately size pieces with kitchen scissors if necessary. Place a section of fruit leather on a piece of parchment paper that is just wider than the dried fruit. Fold the leading edge of the paper over the fruit leather and then begin rolling tightly to the opposite edge, encasing all of the fruit; secure the paper with masking tape. Store in a zip-close bag or lidded container.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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