Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baked Fruit Leather


Happy Thursday, all.

Yesterday, I found myself very busy using up all the wonderful summer fruit I have hanging around. Fruit that was in desperate need of a purpose, and soon.

Usually, when faced with an excess of fresh fruit I do two things: make purée to freeze and save for future baking and candy making or I make fruit leather.

Fruit leather is so simple to make and a great way to take advantage of the summer markets that are flooded with inexpensive fresh fruit. Kids love the stuff too... who will be going back to school soon, right? They might need a reasonably healthy treat in their lunchbox. Something better than the usual fare I supply on this site.

While fruit leather is generally made in a dehydrator, you can make it at home in your oven too. All you need is plenty of time, a blender or food processor, an oven that can hold a temperature more or less around 150°F, and since most ovens don't have a mark on their dial for that, an oven thermometer too.



That's all you need to turn all this into this...



Into something like this.

If you're eying up that old bread trench full of fruit and going "surplus?" Okay, I went a little beyond using up my extra fruit. I got so caught up in the fun of making fruit leather that I went out and filled two shopping totes with even more fruit.

It was a momentary loss of control. I'll admit that. I wanted to fruit leather everything I could find at the market, I was so seduced by the idea of fruit rolls with new and inventive flavors.



I had so many batches to tend to yesterday that I ended up staying up until 2 am. So word to the wise, if you're going to make fruit leather, don't start any batches at 6pm on a weeknight.



Baked Fruit Leather
Yields a roughly 13" x 18" sheet of leather
fruits of your choosing, enough to make 2 cups of puree after cooking (this may require 3-5 cups of uncooked fruit). (Using up to a cup of apple or pear puree will help keep your leather tender when working with less than ideal fruits)
sugar to taste (usually a scant teaspoon to 1/4 cup)
flavorless oil (corn, soy, grapeseed or canola) for greasing

You'll also need:
wax paper
plastic cling wrap

An hour before starting, pre-heat your oven to 150°F. Check your oven thermometer occasionally to make sure it maintains that temperature without spiking into higher temperature ranges (over 170°F wouldn't be good).

To prepare your fruit, wash and remove any inedible peels/bits and chop into small pieces. Place the fruit into a medium pot with a splash of water. Set over medium heat and cover. Stir occasionally until the fruit has released it's juices and become soft and mushy. If your fruit releases a lot of juice while cooking and the mixture is thin, uncover the pot and allow to simmer on the stove top until some of the liquid has evaporated. You want the mixture to be sort of similar to chunky apple sauce, in terms of thickness.



Meanwhile, prepare your pan by loosely covering it with a sheet (or sheets) of cling wrap. Yes, you're going to bake on plastic wrap. No, it won't melt. If your plastic cling wrap can withstand microwave temperatures without melting or catching fire, it can handle the oven too. Provided it doesn't get too hot (remember my pre-heating advice?). The plastic will shrink a bit in the heat, so give it some extra allowance to do so. Don't stretch it tight on the pan like a drum. Lightly brush the plastic with oil.

Pour the soft cooked fruit into a blender or food processor and purée thoroughly. Add sugar to taste, remembering that the flavor will concentrate in the oven. You can also brighten the fruit flavor with a little lemon juice, a touch of vanilla, or add spices at this point. Apple cinnamon leather anyone?

Pour the purée onto your prepared pan. Carefully spread the mixture with an offset spatula to evenly coat the pan. You want the thickness as uniform as possible.

Place the pan in your oven and allow to bake for 4-8 hours (it's faster if your oven has a fan), checking often towards the end to ensure you don't turn it into a fruit crisp. Once you can firmly touch the fruit without it sticking and leaving pulp on your fingertip, it is done. Pull it out of the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.

If you find that you've over-baked the leather a little, or the edges have become brittle. Grab a spray bottle and spritz the leather lightly with a little fresh water and allow it to stand and rehydrate. Lack a spray bottle? Then blot the area with slightly damp paper towel.



For quick storage, roll up the whole sheet of leather, using the cling wrap you baked it on. Or peel off the plastic and cut the fruit into single serving strips. You can roll up the fruit with a little cling wrap or use slips of waxed paper.



Store in a air tight container in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.


Enjoy!

47 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great idea! However, if it's only going to last two weeks my household of two probably couldn't go through a huge batch in time. Do you happen to know if they freeze well? If so, I could load up at the Saturday market, cook all weekend, and have healthy snacks for most of the semester!

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. genius! now i just need the time to wait around 4-6 hours.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not certain how well it would freeze, but my best guess is that it would be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my gosh, I would love to try this!

    You can send any of that surplus to me, you know... :o)

    ReplyDelete
  5. This looks awesome. Going to have to give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
  6. you are one brave, creative, inspiring woman! i am adding this to my "to do" list! brilliant for back to school lunches!

    ReplyDelete
  7. wow! fruit roll-ups! haven't had one of those since I was a kid, going to try these asap, great post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you use a sweeter fruit like peaches, can you leave out adding sugar? Or does it really NEED a little? Just curious.

    I wonder how I can get to the Farmers Market on Saturday when I'm supposed to be working the Used Book Sale at the library...hmmmm...perhaps plan B.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If you use sweeter fruit, you do not need to add sugar.

    About a third of the batches I made needed no additional sugar.

    Of course, if you prefer your leather all natural and possibly a bit tart, you can forgo the sugar all together. It is all a matter of personal taste.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You can also combine sweeter fruits (pears are great for this) with tart fruits to avoid using sugar.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excelente idea. Tendre que probarlo. Muchas gracias por compartirlo.
    Besitos, May

    ReplyDelete
  12. Simply brilliant! I never thought of this method and use it for sure! |

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just want to know...what happens to the plastic?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Once the fruit has dried you just peal it off the plastic. It will lift off quite easily.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so happy you posted this!

    I move into my dorm on Sunday and I've been trying to stock up on healthy home-baked snacks before I'm deprived of an oven, so when I saw your post, I immediately started on a batch... at 9 pm.

    Now it's 2:45 am and I regret starting so late, only because nobody else was awake to keep me from eating everything ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post, my kids eat fruit leather like it's going out of style so I will definitely try this.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh my! I have just one question, can you use granulated sweetener instead of the sugar at all?

    You just saved me a rather expensive purchase of a dehydrator... thankyou... and an even bigger thankyou from my partners wallet :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. This may be a silly question, but can you use frozen fruit? I'm thinking of what happens when i try to tell my toddler it isn't summer anymore and there are no more strawberries . . .

    ReplyDelete
  19. AMAZING! I can't wait to try! tomorrow hopefully. Beautiful shots too. I have a tree full of almost ripe peaches but the dang squirrels are making their own fruit leather and beating me to it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am so trying this with plums.

    So if you aren't jamming, your leathering, huh? Well, quite. :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I haven't had fruit leather in years. But I'm totally captivated by the thought of making my own, especially with summer being the best time for a bevy of wonderful fruit. Thanks for the inspiration! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  22. These are gorgeous! The tags are a nice touch for gifts, how did you make them?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Brooke,

    Frozen fruit is great and will work fine.

    StripyPixieSocks,

    I'm pretty sure you can use other sweeteners. Some may extend the dehydration time though.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ivy,

    Printed them onto heavy stock paper from a scrapbook graphic set.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mr. P,

    If I'm not jamming OR puréeing I'm leathering.

    Basically when I have fruit, I do something with it. Radical, I know.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Ooooooh! I love these! Ah, all these childhood memories of fruit roll-ups in my lunchbox suddenly come flooding back... :) I wish I had this recipe just a few months ago when I was still at uni and in need of yummy, healthy snacks to get me through late-night cram sessions. I'll just have to try making batches for when I start work instead! Also, your photographs are gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Maybe this is a silly question, but if your oven won't set at 150 degrees, how do you prevent it from getting too warm?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Are you sure you can't set it to 150°, or are you worried that if you oven doesn't have a mark for 150° it won't hold that temperature?

    My oven starts at 200°F but I can still turn the dial before this point, until I just hear the oven click on and it will hold a very low temperature.

    If your oven won't cooperate, is there anything you can do to prevent it from getting too warm? Nothing practical, there really isn't much you can do. The plastic will melt at higher temperatures and would result in a fruit leather isn't very tasty.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ohhhh, I'm going to go to the U District farmers market tomorrow... spend an absurd amount of money of fruit... then make some fruit leather!

    Just wondering... are you going to the International Food Bloggers Conference?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Not going to the IFBC. Even though it is local, I remember the tickets seeming rather expensive.

    I would need a lot of free conference swag to drag me downtown.

    Also, if you ever make it up to Lynnwood, check out the large Korean store H-mart. The store is a foodie experience in itself and you can fill a cart with ordinary and exotic produce for about $20.

    ReplyDelete
  31. oh I SOO want to make this! But I dont wanna buy an oven thermometer....Whats the worst case scenario if it gets really hot?

    ReplyDelete
  32. If you don't wish to use a thermometer I recommend doing the following:

    Turn your oven dial so it just clicks on, this will be well before the first tick on your oven dial.

    Allow it to preheat for 30 minutes. When you open it, the temperature should feel very warm but not uncomfortably hot.

    Now grab a pan and a piece of aluminum foil. Cover your pan and place a piece of plastic wrap onto the foil. Bake this for an hour. If the plastic survives without melting or catching fire (it will shrink a little and get stretchy, that's okay) you can probably proceed. If the plastic does melt, your pan will be protected by the foil.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Can you make something of this kind using banana

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yes, but I wouldn't cook it. Just puree the bananas and bake until no longer tacky.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is genius. I love that you can make this at home without strange gadgets. I am definitley making this. I have so many flavours in mind....

    ReplyDelete
  36. This sounds amazing!! I absolutely have to try!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Was the Strawberry good? xoxo, MH

    ReplyDelete
  38. I love the idea, but not thrilled about baking the fruit on the plastic, especially for my kiddos - we don't even use plastic in our microwave...I suppose I could probably use one of those silicone mats instead, particularly since you peel the fruit off and transfer it to wax paper once you've cut it...

    ReplyDelete
  39. Yes, you can use silicone baking mats to do this as well.

    However don't grease the baking mats, it isn't necessary (obvious but I thought I'd mention it). You will also need to make slightly less purée, as you don't want the fruit to spread past the edges of your mat.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I know that it is a matter of personal taste, but can you share some ideas for fruit combinations? I figure that you have very likely heard of and tried some that I have not :-)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Can you bake the leathers at 170? My oven really does not go down to 150 :-(. It's digital display reads 170 as its base temperature. I'm using a silicone mat, not plastic, so might this work? Or would it ruin the leather?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Strings,

    170°F with a silicone mat should work fine, just watch the leather closely.

    You can also regulate the oven's temp--keeping it cooler than 170--by turning the oven off for periods every now and again and keeping he door closed.

    ReplyDelete
  43. As for fruit combinations, go wild. Mix and match like a mad scientist making franken-fruit

    Everything but lychee, which doesn't make great leather as the flavor doesn't survive cooking.

    Pair sour fruits with sweeter fruits to balance the tartness. Pear is a great way to sweeten leather without interfering with the flavor of the second fruit.

    Fruits that work very well: Grapes, plums, pears, apples, berries. They also make a great base for other fruits that might not 'leather' so easily.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thank-you for your direction and advice! I love your blog! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  45. This recipe is beautiful! I tried a very simple one over at Weelicious for my little man but I have to say I am drawn to try your approach next time. Gorgeous site. Well done. I am going to mention it over at my blog Carrots Are Orange for my readers (parents with young kids). Cheers.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails