In my humble, yet naive opinion, fruit leather should contain fruit, not corn syrup, added sugar, cottonseed oil, food dye…who needs all that? The organic fruit leather is better, but expensive. Can this be done at home?
Since I have blueberries…a lot of blueberries..I decided to make fruit leather.
Step 1 – Review recipes for the basics.
Step 2 – Wing it!
I wanted to make enough fruit leather to make it worth the time, but not so much that if it was a disaster we’d be stuck with it. I settled on 3 cups of blueberries (frozen), 2 cups of applesauce (a 24 oz jar of Trader Joe’s Gravenstein - minus what my son ate before I could grab it - because that’s what I had on hand) and about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Some people use honey, I think it depends on what fruit you’re using, and what you have. It makes sense instead of sugar, which could crystallize and cause problems.
I cooked the blueberries with the syrup until a lot of the water was gone, about 20 minutes. The wooden spoon left a visible trail in the pot, but it filled in quickly. I let it cool for a few hours (ok, I let it sit until bed time). Many of the recipes puree the hot fruit right away. I was NOT in the mood to clean blueberry off the ceiling. Plus, cooling = more evaporation = a better chance that it will actually dehydrate. So, once the blueberry mixture was cool, I added the applesauce and blended it with my stick blender (go ahead, read about cornflake rain!). It only took a minute or two before the mixture was smooth.
I sprayed 2 jellyroll pans with vegetable spray, divided the mixture between them, set the oven at its lowest temperature (170), propped open the door with a wooden spoon, and went to bed.
The next morning (7 hours later), I had fruit leather! But, it wasn’t perfect, and I know why…
My pans are black and slightly warped through years of use. The fruit puree was too thick to be self leveling. I filled the first pan and leveled it using a large offset spatula, but the 2nd pan did not get as much and had thin spots which were not immediately apparent. When they came out of the oven, the less filled pan had spots that were not leathery. This is bad for rolling, but an interesting crispy snack. I set the crispy pieces on the counter and they were enjoyed by many and preferred by some. Go figure.
I need about 1 more cup of puree, and to line the pans with parchment to get a better view of the uniformity. As an added bonus when the leather is done it can be cut it right along with the parchment instead of having to cut individual strips for rolling.
Because this isn’t an “official” recipe yet, you can’t add it to your meal plan. If you make it I’d love to hear what worked for you and what didn’t.
So…can this be done at home? Yes. Is it economical? When you compare it to an all real ingredient version, yes, even when you factor in the ~$0.77 it costs to run the oven overnight.
It’s also a nice treat to send along when you want to send something tasty, for birthday treats, but have to worry about food allergies.