Learning to make your own fruit leather is NOT difficult. If you have a blender and an oven (even a solar oven), you can do this kitchen DIY! Plus, you’ll never have to buy that packaged “fruit” roll up nonsense again!
For more DIY kitchen tips, be sure to check out The Homestead Kitchen chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Don’t have your own copy of the book? No worries, you can get either the e-version or the print version here. If you’d like to see a sample section of the kitchen chapter, just send me an email at Tessa@Homesteadlady.com.
Healthy Snack: Homemade Fruit Leather
Homemade fruit leather is an amazingly easy, wonderfully delicious and healthy snack. All you need is fruit, a blender and a dehydrator of some kind. The oven can be your gas or electric oven set on very low, but even a solar oven will work if the sun is shining!
So as the cherries come on (and the pears and the peaches, apples, marionberries and more), just remember to buy a little extra to make your own fruit leather. If you’re growing your own fruit, you can plan to harvest and make fruit leather into the fall as you’re preserving your harvest in other ways, too.
Even a handful of fruit can make several sheets of fruit leather so feel free to experiment with fruit combinations and additives like spices. Today, I’ll show you how to make apricot fruit leather from fresh apricots. (You can generally follow these instructions for using canned fruit, if you prefer. You’ll most likely use less, if any, sweetener when using canned fruit.)
Don’t Forget to Add Kids
This is a really good kitchen activity for children and grandchildren, FYI. Young children will need supervision around knives, blenders and ovens, of course. However, none of the tasks involved in making fruit leather are too complicated for children.
Learning to follow instructions, chop fruit, pour out puree and monitor the progress of the fruit leather as it dehydrates are all good skills for children to learn. As you’re working together in the kitchen, you can also pass on a little bit of why you’re bothering to make your own fruit leather. You can talk about food preservation and the importance of eating healthy foods, especially snack foods.
What started out a chore can turn into a teaching moment.
Steps to Making Fruit Leather
Prepare the Fruit
Here’s how to make your own fruit leather in a few easy steps:
1. Get fruit from your backyard, your grandma’s house, the farm down the road. Wash it off. 2. I’m using apricots in these pictures, but you can make fruit leather out of just about any fruit. If it’s a harder fruit like apples, you’ll may want to simmer them in some water for about twenty minutes to soften them. Soft fruits like apricots just need to be pitted and thrown directly into a blender or food processor to become the right consistency for making your own fruit leather.
3. Cut out any seeds, stems or cores and place the prepared fruit into your blender body. Puree the fruit until it’s liquefied. How much fruit to blend depends entirely on how much leather you want to make. Two cups of fruit approximately becomes one cup of fruit puree. However much you make, be sure to completely blend it down. If you have chunks of fruit leftover, they won’t dry at the same rate as the rest of your fruit leather and may lead to mold.
4. Taste your puree. Does it need sweetener? I recommend honey if you plan to store your fruit long term, or would simply like a healthier sweetener. You can also use raw sugar. If you use sugar, add it to taste to the blender body and blend until the sugar is dissolved. If you’d like to prevent possible browning or discoloration of your fruit, add one tablespoon of lemon juice concentrate for every cup of fruit. I never bother with this, FYI.
Dehydrate the Puree
5. Put a liner down onto your dehydrator tray and pour the puree evenly onto it. Use a spatula of some kind to spread the fruit glop evenly over the tray. Be sure there aren’t any holes in your spread and, likewise, that there aren’t any large clumps of puree.
6. If you don’t have a dehydrator, use a rimmed baking sheet (like a jelly roll pan) and line it with parchment paper. When using your solar oven, double check that your baking sheet will fit inside of it. If the baking sheet is too large, you can use any pan that will fit. A baking sheet just allows you to dehydrate a lot of fruit leather at once.
8. Stack the trays in your dehydrator (or baking sheets in your oven) and turn it on. If you want your homemade fruit leather raw, keep it under 115 degrees. Otherwise set the dehydrator around 135 degrees. Most ovens only go down to about 170 degrees, so keep your eye on your fruit leather to keep it from over-drying. Here’s another great tutorial from Two Peas and their Pod for using your oven instead of a dehydrator.
9. How fast your homemade fruit leather dries in a dehydrator is dependent on A LOT of factors (like ambient humidity and to what temp you set your dehydrator). I like my fruit leather to stay pretty pliable, so I start checking on it after eight hours. If you like yours a little on the crispy side, go longer. In the conventional oven, check yours every hour. In a solar oven, with the lid vented to allow moisture to escape, check it every few hours. To learn more about dehydrating fruit in a solar oven, click here.
10. Fruit leather dries from the outside towards the center so just make sure that your finger doesn’t leave an imprint when you press it into the center. Keep reading for a link with more specific instructions on how to do this in your regular oven, if you don’t have a dehydrator.
Finish Processing Fruit Leather
- Take your trays of homemade fruit leather out of the dehydrator when looking at them makes you happy. That’s not a very specific method, of course, but you’ll know when it looks tasty. To ensure completion of the dehydration process, your fruit leather should feel dry to the touch. Your finger should not be able to leave an indentation in the surface. Stickiness isn’t always a good gauge because fruit sugar is naturally sticky, but if you’re concerned your leather is still too sticky, dehydrate it a bit more.
- Remove the fruit leather them from the liner.
- Cut the fruit leather into bite size pieces, strips or do the classic fruit roll-up thing. Store in plastic or glass.
- You can also put wax paper or butcher paper in between your rolls of homemade fruit leather to ensure they don’t stick to each other.
- According to the National Center for Home Food Safety, you can plan to store your fruit leather for one month at room temperature and about a year if tightly wrapped and placed in the freezer.
Favorite Kinds of Fruit Leather?
What’s our favorite fruit leather to make ourselves, you ask? Pear leather with a touch of cinnamon mixed into the fruit glop before you dehydrate them. Then, oh-so important, we spread some soft, delectable cream cheese over the leather, roll it up and cut it into bit size pieces. People have been known to lose fingers at the table over these.
Here’s a rhubarb cranberry recipe for leather from DIY Natural for a powerhouse of health.
Or how about Pumpkin Pie Leather from Common Sense Homesteading?
What’s your favorite kind of fruiter leather to make? What combinations are you contemplating, if you’re new to making fruit leather?
Cover image gratefully attributed to this Wikipedia Commons user.