My mother-in-law makes fruit leather for her grandchildren for Christmas each year and has the process down to a science. Here is her step-by-step method for making and packaging delicious fruit leather.
You can make fruit leather out of any pureed fruit. We make our own homemade applesauce, so it’s a convenient (and delicious) choice for us. Applesauce also makes a nice base if you want to add in other fruits and berries. Not only is applesauce a great consistency, it is also less expensive than most other fruit options.
We make fruit leather with just one ingredient: fruit. There’s no sugar and no weird preservatives that you can’t pronounce, just all-natural goodness!
You can make fruit leather in an oven or in the sun, but we use an Excalibur dehydrator. The dehydrator has a greater capacity and uses less energy than an oven. In addition to the dehydrator, we use the non-stick tray sheets (these generic ones work great and are way cheaper that the Excalibur ones). I’ve hear that parchment paper will work too, but I haven’t tried it. If you are doing your fruit leather in the oven, you’ll want to use plastic wrap (heat tolerant, microwavable kind) to line your pan.
We use fresh homemade applesauce, but you could use store-bought applesauce if you prefer. If you’re making your own applesauce, thicker is better for fruit leather, so add very little water when steaming your apples.
Making Fruit Leather
Add 2 cups of applesauce to each tray. Spread as evenly as possible, about ¼ inch thick. Leave some space around the edge to make it easier to pull off the sheet. Make the applesauce on the perimeter slightly thicker.
Dry in the dehydrator at 135 degrees for 12 hours. If you’re using your oven, turn your oven on its lowest temp (often somewhere between 140 and 170) and leave until it’s no longer sticky (8-12 hours, depending on temp).
Cutting Fruit Leather
Cut your square in thirds. Cut each third in half. You should have 6 rectangles. You can fold and use a knife to neatly cut the fruit leather. A sharp pizza cutter works well too.
Packaging Fruit Leather
Using plastic wrap, lay out 4 fruit leather rectangles at a time. Add a piece of clear tape between the two rows as shown above (top left). Cut along the center of the tape, so each half has a taped portion. Then, cut the plastic wrap in the other direction, so each fruit leather has its own rectangle of plastic wrap.
Roll starting at the side without tape. Fold up an inch of plastic wrap before you start rolling so that the fruit leather doesn’t stick to itself. The taped end will be the last part to roll up and will make your fruit leather easy to unroll. Otherwise, it’s tricky to find where the plastic wrap starts. Gently press down the plastic wrap on either end of the roll.
If you are planning on long-term storage, put the fruit rolls in the freezer for 4 days. We do this with everything we dehydrate. After that, you can store the fruit roll-ups in Ziploc freezer bags in your pantry for a year or more!
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