Fruit leather is one of the easiest ways you can use leftover fruits, or take advantage of abundant fruit crops to create tasty and healthy snacks for your family without the added sugars and chemicals from most store-bought varieties.
You don’t need sugar for most recipes; fruit is generally sweet enough on its own. You need to puree it completely smooth, and you can use a blender/food processor for this! Add a touch of honey if it’s too tart!
People with diabetes can eat fruit leathers as part of their diets (be sure to use a no-sugar-added recipe). Aspartame can lose its sweetness in the drying process, and this is an alternative to sugar packed with chemicals. Use your regular fruit exchange for keeping track of dietary sugars.
What is Fruit Leather?
Fruit leather is fruit strips made from dried foods – usually fruit. Homemade fruit leather is created when the fruit is cut, blended, dried, and then cut into strips. Some people use a dehydrator for a quicker process, although it depends on what equipment you have. If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can dehydrate the fruit mixture by putting it in your oven! Once the fruit is dried, it will be a firm texture, but you should still be able to roll and fold the fruit strips. Fruit leather is usually aimed at children to make eating fruit fun, so the strips are often designed in fun shapes.
It’s easy to find a fruit leather recipe your child (and you!) will love because there are so many ingredients you can use. Use berries, plums, a bought fruit mixture, and any of your other preferred fruits to create unusual flavor combinations. If you purchase already-made fruit leather as opposed to making homemade fruit leather, these are less healthy and contain food additives. At the very least, you can expect sweeteners, but other ingredients include modified food starch and maltodextrin to add soft texture. As this food aims towards children, many companies add color additives for a brighter appearance.
How to Make Fruit Leather in the Oven
If your children aren’t fans of eating fruit, we guarantee they’ll love fruit leather strips. As the fruit is dried, this snack looks more like sweets than one of your five-a-day. We love that you can use whatever fruit ingredients you have around your house and easily make homemade fruit leather which is delicious to eat. Firstly, ensure you pick ripe fruit. Add some extra flavor and sweetness to your ingredients with natural sugar or honey. Certain fruits – such as berries and plums – don’t tend to need sweetening up, so you can skip this step. Cut up your chosen fruits into small pieces and add to a food processor to create a healthy mixture. Consider how much mixture you have and if this will all fit onto the baking tray.
Next, apply a dehydrator sheet to a cookie tray. The sheet will help to dehydrate your homemade fruit and capture any leakage. Evenly spread your pureed ingredients onto the tray in strips. Add this to the oven (if you don’t have a dehydrator) and remove once the mixture has dried, but isn’t firm enough to roll up. At this stage, leave the large strips on the dehydrator sheet to cool down. Once the batch has dried and cooled, roll up or cut into fun shapes to make eating healthy fun.
When making your fruit strips recipe, you should remove any pips or stones from your fruit. Remove stones from plums and de-seed any necessary fruit. To speed up your drying time, we suggest preheating your fruit mixture before adding to a baking sheet and then in the oven. Doing so is a great tip for busy moms. Using paraflexx sheets that are meant for a dehydrator works wonders because they’re non-stick and won’t create a sticky mess. Alternatively, you can use a cooking spray with regular sheets. As the sides of your mixture will dry quicker than the middle, make the edges thicker to prevent any uneven texture or burning.
Purchase a silicone baking mat to add to your paraflexx sheets. A silicone baking mat is sturdy and durable, and it won’t bend during high heats in the oven. Another advantage of this baking mat is that it’s easy to clean – which is ideal for any sticky messes when making your mixtures. The baking mat won’t hold any flavors or odors, which makes it great for limiting bacteria.
How to Make Natural Fruit Roll-Ups
You wouldn’t consider that fruit can be unhealthy, but there are many ways to make fruit leather recipes unbeneficial. Stick to healthy oils such as cottonseed oil which derives from cotton plants’ seeds. Vegetable oil is also a healthy option when used in moderation. However, we recommend staying away from vegetable oil as this lacks nutrients. More often than not, it’s hugely processed and uses soy, corn, canola, and other unhealthy ingredients to adjust the flavor. Cooking sprays are a great way to moderate the amount of oil you use with your flavor combinations. Coconut oil is great for you, but partially hydrogenated coconut oil is higher in trans fat and contains a high level of fatty acids too.
To make your fruit leather strips as healthy as possible, we recommend purchasing organic fruits, so that your main ingredients are free from toxins and any nasty preservatives. Also, stick to natural ingredients such as honey and sugar, rather than sweetener which is chemically modified to reduce its number of calories. Once entirely made, keep your fruit strips at room temperature to avoid using additional oil in the oven, or adding radiation from a microwave.
Tips for dehydrating Fruit Leather
- Make sure top is dull (not shiny) and doesn’t indent. The object is to dry the leather, but not cook it.
- Use any combination of fruit that sounds good to you.
- Spread out the mixture to be thin, but not so thin you can see through it to your parchment paper or a silicon sheet. You don’t have to cover your whole space, either.
- A pizza cutter is the best to cut the leather. If your leather sticks to it a lot, you might want to dry a little longer.
- Make sure to use parchment paper to ‘roll them up’ and keep them separated.
- Fruit leather/ roll-ups are good for short-term storage but don’t expect to use them for long-term storage.
- You can use fresh, frozen or canned fruit, although we recommend organic.
- Use some lemon juice to help light-colored fruits from turning. This is helpful if you don’t prepare the fruit the same day as you purchase it.
- If your mixture is too thin, add some banana or a tablespoon of ground chia or flax seed to help thicken.
- Spice it up! Use spices and extracts to flavor your leathers. Just use them sparingly because flavors intensify as you go. 1/16 to 1/8 tsp to start with until you’re comfortable with the taste.
- If you don’t have a silicone mat to do your leathers on, use unbleached parchment paper instead.
- You can use an oven set at the lowest temperature it can go, and leave the door cracked or propped open with a wooden spoon.
- Use local honey instead of sugar for more extended storage as honey doesn’t crystallize.
- Fruit leathers can store for one month fresh or up to one year in the freezer. This time limit is general; your mileage may vary.
- Use applesauce as an extender if your blend is too thick. It helps reduce tartness.
- Dry fruits at 130-140F in your dehydrator for 6-8 hours, and in the oven on your lowest temp with the door propped open with a wooden spoon. Check both after about 4 hours to make sure you don’t get over dry.
- Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes for the littles!
- Add nuts, seeds or coconut flakes to bring a fun texture to your leather.
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Fruit leather recipes you will love!
Even if a recipe calls for sugar, you can leave it out. Just sweeten your puree to taste – use local, organic honey to sweeten if necessary!
Plum Fruit Leather
Plum jelly is my favorite…and these plum fruit leather roll-ups are pure heaven to me! Plums contain high levels of antioxidants and fiber – even dried, and they can reduce the threat of chronic diseases.
Pumpkin and Apple Fruit Leather
With a mixture of pumpkin puree (you can use fresh or canned), applesauce, pumpkin pie spice, and a sweet surprise, this pumpkin and applesauce combination is perfect for fall but is just as delicious all year round. Apple leather reduces your risks of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Apple leather is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as maintaining your blood sugar levels to reserve energy.
Pineapple Fruit Leather
This pineapple fruit roll-up is super easy because it is a single ingredient! You may need a large silicone baking mat for this recipe as the pineapple juice can easily stick to paraflexx sheets.
Strawberry Lemonade Fruit Leather
One of our favorite summer drinks is strawberry lemonade — imagine the awesomeness captured in a fruit leather!
Peach Raspberry Fruit Leather
A perfect summer combination with peaches and raspberries!
Blueberry Banana Fruit Leather
When I was growing up, a friend’s mom made a blueberry banana pie that was out of this world. While not as sweet, this blueberry banana combination comes pretty close to my childhood memory!
Sneaky Green Apple Fruit Leather
Yes!! You can sneak veggies into your fruit leather roll-ups! Since it’s just a puree…sneak in some spinach or even beets (for red colors) to add some color, nutrition, and flavor!
Yogurt Raspberry Fruit Leather
Not only can you sneak hidden veggies into your fruit leathers, but you can also add protein! This yogurt and raspberry fruit leather is a creamy combination that adds an extra nutritional punch!
Sweet Potato and Apple Fruit Leather
Now, this sounds amazing! Sweet potato and apple roll-ups for the fall?! You bet!!
Tomato Peach Strawberry Grape Fruit Roll-ups
While botanically a fruit, in the US, tomatoes are legally a vegetable — so this tomato grape strawberry and peach roll-up combination is a great way to sneak in more veggies!
Pear and Vanilla Fruit Leather
This striking combination of pear and vanilla is a little more refined (not that kids won’t love it!) and harkens to a classy French restaurant dessert.
Rainbow Fruit Leather
How is this for making dehydrated fruit puree tasty and fun to look at!? Rainbow roll-ups can be made of any combination of fruits (and veggies!)
With lacto-fermenting and probiotics all the rage, these lacto-fermented roll-ups are sure to take your snacking to the next nutritional level.
Fruit Leather Lollies
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And who says you only have to do a roll-up?! This ingenious idea of fruit snack lollipops is great for parties, too! Just use a lollipop craft stick and pour on a dollop of pureed fruit!
Other good fruit leather resources:
- Chocolate Banana Nut
- What to do if you’ve dried your fruit leather too long (and an optional way of rolling and cutting!)
- 5 Ways to Get Crafty with Fruit Leather – and the rice Krispie treat/fruit leather sushi looks awesome