Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fruit Leather

Fruit Leathers are a traditional method of preserving a fruit harvest.

I recently got a great, brief question from a reader, Kyan:
"Would you be willing to do a post on fruit leather? I've never heard of it before."

If you've ever eaten a "Fruit Roll-Up", as many kids in the U.S. have, then you are familiar with the idea of a Fruit Leather... even if you've never heard the name.  Although making your own is significantly healthier than the store bought, mass-produced variety; plus it's a lot of fun, and kids (and grown-up kids) love them!

If you look online there are literally hundreds of recipes for making Fruit Leather, but they all involve the same process...

Thicker Fruit Leathers take longer to dehydrate.

Instructions for Making Fruit Leather

  1. Obtain the freshest, ripest fruit possible.
  2. Clean the fruit if needed.
  3. Cut up the fruit if needed. Discard bruised or damaged areas.
  4. Optional Step - Add a color stabilizer. The most natural is lemon or lime juice, but some people make a liquid dip from a mixture of water and ascorbic acid crystals (easily purchased at large grocery stores). Fruit chunks are allowed to soak for about 5 minutes. This step is used for apples, apricots, pears, and peaches.
  5. Puree the fruit in a blender - may need to add a small amount of water so the fruit blends well and the puree pours well. The texture should be close to applesauce. 
  6. Optional Step - Strain the puree. This gives a smoother texture, but also removes some of the fiber and nutrients from the puree.
  7. Optional Step - Add a sweetener. I think honey is the healthiest, plus it gives a good texture. Plain table sugar can be used, but it can give the Fruit Leather a granular (almost crunchy) texture. Concentrated fruit juice can also be used - this can be store bought or homemade by heating fresh fruit juice over low heat for a long time until a large portion of the water evaporates, and you are left with a very sweet, thick sauce.
  8. Pour the puree onto a flat surface for drying. This is where things can vary tremendously.  See Drying Methods below. The thickness of the poured puree should be about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) thick. Try to keep the puree about an inch (2.5 cm) from the edge as it will spread as it dries.
  9. Remove the dried Fruit Leather, cut to size if needed, roll up or store flat in a clean, dry location (a paper bag works well, but fruit leathers can be frozen.
  10. Fruit Leathers will store for three weeks at room temperature, three months in a refrigerator, or up to a year if frozen.

Dehydrators or Ovens can be used to dry the fruit puree.

Drying Methods for Fruit Leather

  • NOTE - drying times can vary significantly on the method used, the consistency of the puree and the types of fruits used. It is recommended that you begin checking your Fruit Leather after the first 2-3 hours of drying. 
  • Dehydrator - this is the easiest method. The puree is poured onto plastic sheets provided with the dehydrator. If your dehydrator does not have the plastic sheets, then a layer of plastic wrap will work fine. 
  • Oven - this method works just as well, but may take a little experimentation to get it just right. Place plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. Pour the puree on the plastic wrap covering the cookie sheet. If you wet the cookie sheet a little, the plastic will stay in place on the cookie sheet better. Place the oven on its lowest setting, and crack the oven door open - this is very important as it lets the moist air escape. Ideal temperature is 100 F (37 C). Most ovens cannot be set that low, so just set the oven to the lowest setting, and watch the drying fruit - higher temps will dry faster. 
                    - At 100 F (37 C) it will take about 12-16 hours.
                    - At 150 F (65 C) it will take about 8-10 hours.

A beautiful raspberry Fruit Leather

This is the very basic method for making Fruit Leathers. As I said, there are many, many recipes online that include spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, vanilla, etc.), chopped fruit with the puree (raisins, dates, dried apricots, dried coconut, etc.), or other random ingredients (peanut butter, chopped nuts, pumpkin, yogurt, etc.), and even brandy or liqueur (uh... not for most kids) can be added to the puree. The variations are almost endless, and the results are delicious!


  1. Thanks a lot =]. That's not what I thought you meant at all ha.

  2. I wanted to let you know that this little informational strip really made my day, I've been wanting fruit leather for a while, and when I went to the store and asked about fruit leather, they just looked at me funny and said no. now instead of trying to find the cheap made crap the stores might have if i keep looking, I'll be making it, cheaper, and better too! thanks again!

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