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.
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.
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.
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!
No-Cook Fruit Leather
- 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
- Puree the fruit in a food processor with the lemon juice until very smooth.
- Add the sweetener, starting with the smaller amount, and gradually increasing to suit your taste. Add the cinnamon, blend well, and taste again.
- Transfer the puree into a measuring cup for easy pouring.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.