Ryan has always loved fruit leathers but they can get pricey and they can have some “not so fabulous” additives in them. A loves snacking and I try to make her snacks as healthy as possible, contrary to her sometimes picky eating habits. We found a product called Shredz made by Plum Organics that I give her, they are easy and convenient and healthy but there is just something about homemade that is important to me and has become even more important since I had A.
Over time I have looked at making homemade fruit leathers but didn’t have a dehydrator or an oven that goes down to 140* like most recipes suggest. So, I made an effort to find the basics and go with it using what we had. I also wanted to know the difference between using fresh fruit versus frozen and if there is a difference. Since I was already making fruit leathers I wanted to try everything out at once, answer all of my questions.
We made two batches. Strawberry, Peach & Pineapple (left), and Apple Pear (right).
For the Strawberry Peach Pineapple
2 cups Chopped Strawberries (OR 1 -10oz bag of frozen)
2 cups Chopped Peaches (OR 1 -10oz bag of frozen)
2 cups Chopped Pineapple (OR 1 -10oz bag of frozen)
*We used all frozen for this batch
3/4 cup of water
For the Apple Pear
5 Apples cored, skinned and chopped
4 Pears cored, skinned and chopped
(combined it equals about 8 cups)
1 cup water
Stove Top Cooking Instructions
Place saucepan filled with fruit and water on the stove and simmer. Once the mixture has simmered for about 15 minutes use a potato masher and to break up the fruit. At this point you should also taste the mixture to see if you would like it a little sweeter or the flavor brightened at all. If you would like to sweeten it you can use sugar, agave or honey. We used agave in ours (we only added to the Strawberry Peach Pineapple) but any of the three will work. I suggest adding it little by little, probably a TBSP at a time until you feel it’s the sweetness you would like. If you would like to brighten the flavor at all use Lemon. Again, for us we only did this to the Strawberry Peach Pineapple because it was the only one that needed it and I used about 1.5 tsp. You can also add cinnamon or nutmeg to enhance the flavors as well. I added cinnamon to the Apple Pear. Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes occasionally mashing down the fruit.
Once the fruit is softened from being simmered on the stove top use a food processor or blender to blend up the fruit. Make sure it’s blended well and there are not any chunks in the mixture.
Preparing to Dehydrate
Preheat your oven to 170* – if your oven is like mine this is the lowest it will go. We used two large cookie sheets and lined them with microwave safe saran wrap, if you don’t have microwave safe saran wrap you could also use parchment paper. Once the pan in lined pour the mixture into the sheet an smooth it out across the pan making sure that it’s even from edge to edge. If it’s not even it will cook unevenly. The mixture should be about 1/4″ – remember you are dehydrating the fruit so your mixture will be very thin when it’s finished. Another important thing to remember is the saran wrap cannot fall over the top of the pureed fruit otherwise it will not cook in the covered area.
We put both sheet pans in at once and let the process begin. All recipes I found said 4-8 hours on 140*, so we were thinking about 6 at 170* that was not the case. Be fully prepared to dehydrating for 10-12 hours on 170*. Our oven is a newer oven, so I would gauge it’s pretty accurate, however, your oven may cook differently. At about 5 hours go in and rotate your pans and also swap racks. This would also be a great time to make sure your saran wrap didn’t fall over the top of your fruit mixture. You might notice that it’s a texture close to applesauce at this time and consider throwing in the towel because you are convinced it’s not working. It’s working, it just needs more time – trust me. Once you’ve reached about 11 hours go in and check the mixture again and see if it’s about ready. It should be just barely sticky to the touch and should peel easily off of the saran wrap without problems. If so, it’s ready. If not, stick it back in for another hour or so.
I cut our fruit leathers into rectangles and got about 24 out each pan. I chose to keep the saran wrap on the bottom to keep them from sticking to each other then stored them in an airtight container. These leathers are tougher than store bought leathers, so if you have little ones it might be a great idea to cut them into small strips so they are easy to handle and they can stick them in their mouth for a few moments to soften.