Now that I'm a generation older and have much more information on the health risks concerning processed foods and high fructose corn syrup, you can imagine how excited I was to find a recipe for making completely natural versions of fruit leather.
I found two recipes for making natural fruit leather online I've been saving for the right time. The first I found came from A Sonoma Garden and the second from Simply Recipes. We made a variation recipe of our own using tips from both sources.
It just so happened we were at the bottom of the basket on the red delicious apples we picked during our trip to the orchard last month. Since red delicious varieties aren't typically used for cooking, I thought incorporating them into fruit leather would be a good use for their sweeter taste. We also picked up two cartons of raspberries on our weekend outing to the farmer's market.
When making fruit leather, it's best to use fruit that has reached full ripeness and on the verge of over-ripening. This makes the fruit sweeter and less tart so you don't have to add sugar later on if you don't want to. It's also good to note that you can really use any kind of fruit or combination of fruit when making the leather, and it's up to you whether or not you want to peel the skin.
I think my favorite part about this recipe is how little to no measuring is involved. You can truly use as little or as much fruit to make batches of leather and you really can't go wrong. The following process lays out how Tim and I went about making our own natural apple and raspberry fruit leather.
Apple and Raspberry Fruit Leather Recipe
- Apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- Water, 1/2 cup for every 4 cups fruit
- 1 lemon
- Pinches of allspice & nutmeg
- Sugar, optional
Place apples and raspberries (or any prepared fruits you prefer) into a large pot; 4 cups of fruit makes roughly one baking sheet of fruit leather. Pour in 1/2 cup water for every 4 cups fruit you add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to lowest setting and simmer for about 5 minutes or until fruit has broken down and softened considerably.
Vintage timer from TheVintageParlor
Once fruit has softened, mash by hand with a potato masher until fruit mixture thickens. At this point, add lemon juice, spices and sugar to taste. If deciding to add sugar, go slowly with about a teaspoon at a time until you reach desired taste. The juice from the lemon will not only add a hint of citrus taste to the leather, but will help bring out the brightness of the color. While we used pinches of allspice and nutmeg to season our leather, you can swap in any of your favorite spices to experiment with.
Continue to simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes, then transfer mixture to food processor (blender or mill will also work, feel free to get creative) and pulse until you get a really smooth puréed consistency.
Gently pour fruit purée onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, making sure the puree spreads evenly and thin at about 1/8 an inch thickness throughout the baking sheet (the thickness will go down a great deal during the drying process so don't worry if you think your spread looks too thick going in).
Place baking sheets in oven on the top racks at your oven's lowest heat setting — between 120 and 140 degrees if your oven will go that low. Now let sit and dry. We checked about every hour for 5 hours, then turned oven completely off and let sit inside overnight.
You'll know your leather is ready when it's still a little tacky to the touch but smooth and not clumping back up on your fingers — it should be sticky but firm. Once you think the leather is dry enough, try test peeling it back off the parchment paper. It should peel up freely and easily like pictured below. If it begins to peel easily like this, stop there since you are ready!
Next, simply roll the parchment paper over itself to form a long roll and slice in even sections with a sharp knife to form each fruit rollup:
Now your fruit rollups are ready for eating or storing. We placed ours in an airtight container and have been keeping them in the fridge to use as snacks.
They make a great natural snack for kids (and big kids) since they keep in the fridge and freezer. I've already taste tested one on my 2 1/2 year old niece when she came over for a quick visit and she ate it quicker than I've seen her eat anything then asked for another — I'm taking that as the child stamp of approval and am going to take it upon myself to claim some "cool aunt" points for this one!
I could also see making the leather as a fun activity to do with children, not to mention feeling good about letting them eat it, knowing exactly what kind of natural ingredients went into the recipe.
Making the fruit leather was a ton of fun and so much easier than I would have imagined. Like I said before, it's great because you can use any fruit or combination of fruits you may have a little too much of on hand, it's a great use for fruit that's getting to be just past its prime, takes minimal ingredients and little to no measuring.
We hope you'll try this or a variation of your own out and be sure to tell us how it goes if you do!