Homemade fruit leather is a summer treat on a cold winter day (if you don't eat it all before Winter arrives)!
When fruit is abundant, you can find me puréeing and slathering it in thick layers on parchment paper in the dehydrator.
My journey preserving our harvests started in 2009- the first full Summer we were living on our tiny homestead. Our tiny slice of soil came with 7 fruit trees (plum, peach, pear, apple, asian pear, fig, and lemon) and 5, 2x4 garden boxes that you could hardly call "raised". That Summer, I learned how to water-bath can and I invested in my tried-and-true excalibur dehydrator. We have the 9 tray, economy version and - though I'd love to buy the commercial model- the basic economy dehydrator can still put away a significant amount of food and the square trays are a dream for processing your weight in fruit leather compared to the round stacking trays (but use what's you've got!).
Fruit leather is very forgiving and you can really use any fruit you have, your choice of sweetener (you can do unsweetened but a touch of honey or cane sugar really helps improve the plyability of the finished fruit leather). Use a single fruit, or a combo you love. Some fruits are great stand-alone and others work best when combined with another fruit. You can really play with flavors and textures depending on the fruits/berries used as well as whether or not you decide to cook the puree. **See notes below for combo ideas and tips**
6 c. seasonal fruit purée (or even thawed frozen fruit!)
Sweetener of choice- honey/ cane sugar/maple syrup (to taste- I use about 1/4-1/3 c. for this size batch)
(optional) juice of half a lemon or 1/4t citric acid (to prevent browning during the drying process)
Chop fruit discarding any seeds/pits and place in blender till smooth, sweeten to taste-. I choose to keep the skins on for the most part as the blender (vitamix) I use is able to purée them easily and it lends a beautiful color to the finished fruit leather! I make fruit leather from both cooked and raw puree. If I am cooking it (and want to use raw homey as sweetener, I wait until after the puree cools slightly to add the honey to maintain the medicinal integrity)
Pour (cooked or raw) fruit mixture evenly over 2 dehydrator trays-- it should be between 1/8th" and 1/4" thick. (if you do this in the round tray dehydrators, you may need to spread this out over more trays. You can also make fruit leather on the lowest heat setting of your oven on parchment paper on a sheet pan, but drying times may vary if using this option).
Place edible flowers (fresh or pressed whole flowers and petals work well) being careful to select varietals that will lay flat. Remove greens and stems from any flowers that would be tough to eat.
Dehydrate on "fruit" setting for 6-8 hours rotating the stack of trays halfway through (if
necessary) When finished, remove from the dehydrator and let cool completely before removing from the paper, cutting and rolling into strips. You can also opt to leave the leather on the parchment and roll it up and cut into desired widths with the paper on it. (As pictured above) If there is any tackiness remaining on the surface, increase the drying time until it's finished. note- generally, fruit leather gets darker and more translucent as it dries- so you should be able to visually check instead of sticking a finger in and mussin' it all up.
There are so many variations you can try! I like to mix more pulpy fruits with the more watery ones, or even juices (like citrus with persimmons)
try cooking the fruit! Cooked fruit fruit leather had improved texture and shelf-life.
If I am going to use something like blackberries, I like to put it through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds -- you can then add back in a few seeds (if you like) for texture. We love to do applesauce with blackberry or raspberry juice
Applesauce is a great base for fruit leather! We always have homemade applesauce on hand both in 1 cup portions in the freezer, or jarred in the pantry so its really easy to use it as a base to make up a batch at any time of the year.
try sneaking veggies in- carrots, beets and neutral tasting greens can create fun colors in addition to servings of veggies
more fun: make 2 flavors of puree and pour them in alternating strips/ swirls to have swirled fruit leather.
** more flavor combos: