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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What does putting in the freezer for 5 days do? All your dehydrated items? Doesn’t that introduce moisture back into your product?
What’s the tool called you’re using in the pic to spread the applesauce evenly?
I’ve used the parchment paper and it works really well. I still have to perfect some of the recipes, but cutting parchment paper is cheaper and works really well. I only had a small corner have issues peeling off and I think it was because it wasn’t dried all the way. I used a pretty thick strawberry and apple mixture that I heated on the stove.
I just used your recipe for canning applesauce and it turned out perfect. . You really have some great ideas.
That’s great Glada! I’m glad to hear your applesauce was perfect! 🙂
Great tutorial. I also make applesauce fruit leather for the kids in our family. They love it when I add seasonal designs and write their names on the strips. I use pureed strawberry jam in a squeeze bottle. Just add it after spreading the applesauce on the non stick sheet. It dries really nicely and looks great. You will be a BIG hit with the kiddos. You could use any pureed fruit, but with unsweetened applesauce the (strawberry) jam give a great burst of flavor. I’m making some with hearts for Valentine’s Day.
What an adorable idea Sylvia! Thanks for sharing!!
Just wondering why freezing the fruit leather for 4 days is recommended?
That’s what the Exalibur dehydrator instructions say. Supposedly, it kills off any bacteria that could be on the fruit leather so that it can have a nice long shelf life.
It is a form of pasterization for longer storage.
yummo! I’m going to have to try this, my kids love applesauce & fruit leather.. win win!
Mom @ Three is Plenty says
We tried making fruit leather with the recipe that came with our dehydrator – strawberry and bananas blended. It didn’t turn out so well, it was too thick and chewy (and took *forever* to dry). Our dehydrator didn’t recommend thinning it out like you do – maybe we’ll try that next time!
Using bananas in it would be interesting for sure. I’ve never heard of using bananas in fruit leather. We don’t do anything to thin it out per say, we just use applesauce (which may be thinner than your banana strawberry combo). In fact we try to use thick applesauce, so that it doesn’t take as long to dry.