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How to Make No-Cook Fruit Leather in a Dehydrator or Oven

The plum trees this year kept on giving and giving. I gave grocery bags to my neighbors, posted a giveaway on our community Facebook classifieds page and ate two plums every time I passed by the trees in the yard on my way to the garden.

Still, there were so many and they were so sweet. I had to find a way to preserve all that goodness before anymore fell onto the ground and became feed for the deer.

Picking is the fun part, especially when you get high into the trees on an orchard ladder and don’t think about anything except capturing every ripe fruit within reach.

plum-harvest-for-homemade-fruit-leather

Then, the true work begins. Though sometimes it’s easier than you think.

Happily, plums are so simple to pit.

Benjamin and I sat out in the afternoon sun and split them open with my fingers, then brought the pot in, washed the fruit and pulled out my favorite preserving books for ideas.

plum-pitting-for-homemade-fruit-leather

While I’ve dried these plums in the past (they just come out a bit too tart), this year I’d whip some of this harvest (the rest went to rosemary plum jelly and cardamom plum jam) into the girls’ favorite snack: fruit leather, aka roll ups.

How to Make Fruit Leather

For the fruit leather, Molly helped me sweeten it to taste–comparing maple syrup, organic cane sugar and honey. We decided on a combination of honey and cane sugar for just enough sweetness plus just enough cinnamon to add interest.

I used our dehydrator with plastic trays, which I highly recommend for regular fruit leather making. I’ve included instructions for the oven method in the recipe, too.

Make this year round and keep everyone snacking happy.

Of all the projects you can make with homegrown fruit, these dried fun roll ups are the most versatile and long lasting. The girls can’t get enough of them.

finished-homemade-fruit-leather

Along with plums, fresh nectarines, peaches and berries are all fodder for fruit leather.

This recipe makes enough to dry right away for after school and soccer snacks, plus some to freeze for making batches in the future.

Now that is truly rewarding!

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No-Cook Fruit Leather

Along with other drying guidelines reprinted here, I learned from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that honey makes for a longer lasting and more pliable fruit leather. I found that a combination of both honey and sugar works well and contribute different sweetening qualities, so suit yourself.
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups chopped fresh or frozen plums, pitted or peaches, nectarines, berries, mango or combination
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2-1 cup honey, granulated sugar or combination
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Puree the fruit in a food processor with the lemon juice until very smooth.
  2. Add the sweetener, starting with the smaller amount, and gradually increasing to suit your taste. Add the cinnamon, blend well, and taste again.
  3. Transfer the puree into a measuring cup for easy pouring.
  4. Dry any amount you like using either the dehydrator method or oven method below. Store any remaining fruit puree in freezer bags for future, spontaneous fruit leather making.

Dehydrador method:

  1. Spray the drying trays very lightly with cooking spray. Pour a generous cup of the puree into the tray and use a rubber spatula to spread it into an even layer 1/8 inch thick. Dry at 135ºF until it is completely dry with a dull shine and tacky to the touch, 6 to 8 hours. Turn off the dehydrator and let cool for 1 hour before cutting into serving-sized pieces and storing for up to 1 month sealed in a jar.

Oven method:

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Spray very lightly with cooking spray. Pour roughly 2 cups of the puree onto the baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to spread it into an even layer 1/8 inch thick. It does not need to have a uniform shape. Place in a preheated oven set to the lowest temperature (mine only goes down to 170ºF) and bake, rotating the pan every few hours and checking on the progress, until it is completely dry with a dull shine and tacky to the touch, 12 to 16 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour before cutting into serving-sized pieces and storing for up to 1 month sealed in a jar.

Comments

  1. I could not get enough of fruit roll-ups as a kid, and as an adult I greedily dig my teeth into every chewy fruit leather I can get my hands on. So you can only imagine how much I’m now craving these fresh-picked plum ones you made! Do you mind me asking what food dehydrator you use? We are hoping to go on our first backpacking trip soon and I can’t seem to get it out of my mind that bringing our own homemade dehydrated meals has to be better than doling out cash for storebought packs.

    -Lauren-

    P.S. Going to save your Canning and Pickling Article for my late-afternoon reading reward, as soon as I make my way through the rest of this work day!

  2. That’s exactly right, Lauren! Dehydrators are a great investment.

    I actually have 2 of them: a Nesco that my inlaws bought us and an old one from a yard sale. They’re pretty simple appliances, actually, so I don’t think you need to make a big investment in anything special. Just be sure to get the trays for making fruit leather (sold separately).

    Hope you found that canning article helpful!

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