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Make Fruit Leather

Find out how to preserve fruits as fruit leather

Make Fruit Leather

fruits | preserving | recipes

Fruit leather (fruit jerky) quite simply is fruit pureed and then dried to preserve it. Fruit leather can be cut into strips, rolled, and stored to be enjoyed in the winter when there is not much fresh fruit to be had.

Boxes of apricots destined to be turned into fruit leather

Fruit leather is a very efficient way to use up a glut of most fruits, and the finished product is the most delicious nutrition-, energy- and flavour-packed snack food. Ripe or slightly over-ripe fruit is the best (thanks to its sweetness), and therefore at the end of the day at your local fruit market you should be able to grab a bargain tray of perfect fruit to turn into fruit leather.

Fruit Leather Recipe

The best fruits to use for fruit leather are juice-packed sweet soft fruits such as berries, grapes, peaches, apricots, and plums, but also apples and pears make excellent leathers. If your fruit is sweet then it is not necessary to add any sugar, but if the fruit is a bit sour, sugar can be added later to enhance the flavour.

Making the Fruit Puree

The fruits must first be well washed, and any stones, pips, stems, or cores need to be removed and discarded. Put the roughly chopped fruit in a pan and add one cup of water for every eight cups of fruit. Bring the mixture up to boiling point, and then allow the covered pan to simmer for 10-20 minutes until the fruit is fully cooked through and very soft. Now you can use a potato masher to mash the fruit up completely.

Cooking apricots ready to make fruit leather

Taste the mashed fruit and add sugar to taste. Add only a small amount of sugar at a time and keep tasting until the mixture is perfect. If you want to be able to store your fruit leather for a long time, use honey or syrup as a sweetener rather than sugar, since you will then not get crystals forming. Add one teaspoon of lemon juice per cup of fruit to prevent the fruit leather turning brown, and as it will also enhance the flavour of the fruits.

If you are using delicately flavoured fruits - for example pears - you may wish to add spices to the mixture at this stage. Cinnamon and nutmeg work particularly well, as does allspice, star anise and cloves. Now keep the lid off and stir the fruit puree mixture over a low heat for another 5-10 minutes to allow any added sugar to dissolve fully and to drive some of the water out of the puree to thicken it.

Puree apricots to make fruit leather

You now have two choices - you can either pass the puree through a mouli (food mill), or put it all into a blender or food processor. Whichever option you choose, the key to great fruit leather is to get the puree as smooth as you can. This is also your last chance to add sugar, lemon, or spices if you are not completely happy with the taste, but donít forget that the fruit flavours will concentrate and intensify in the oven.

Turn Fruit Puree into Fruit Leather

Now you need to line a baking tray with sturdy microwave resistant cling film which you need to lightly oil to prevent the fruit from sticking to it. Spread an even layer of your fruit puree to no more than 1/4 inch thickness into the tray using a spatula. From 8 cups of fruit you can expect two standard sized trays of fruit leather. Trim the cling film to close to the edge of the tray, and make sure that the film is not covering any of the fruit puree since if it does, that part will not dry out properly.

Put your baking tray or trays into an oven set to a very low temperature - 50 degrees ideally, certainly no more than around 65 degrees Celcius - and if you are not using a fan oven, leave the door a little open (propped with a wooden spoon) so that the moisture coming out of the fruit puree has somewhere to go. You then need to leave it for 5-8 hours (aka overnight if you have small children) to dry out and turn from fruit puree to amazing fruit leather.

When it is ready, the surface of the fruit puree will be smooth instead of sticky. Donít leave it in the oven after this time or your fruit leather will turn into fruit crisps. (If you find the edges of the fruit leather have become a bit dry and crisp, rub the brittle areas with a little water to re-hydrate the fruit and it will soften up again nicely.)

Obviously you do not have to use your oven to make fruit leathers. During a dry period in the summer or autumn, the fruit puree can be left outside all day protected from flies with a muslin or cheese cloth wig-wam. In a day or two youíll have perfect fruit leather. If you have a food dehydrator then use that!

Storing Fruit Leather

Apricot fruit leather

If you want to store the whole piece of fruit leather, then just wrap it into a roll still sitting on the cling film on which it was baked and store in the fridge or freezer. If you want to store (or eat now) individual portions of fruit leather, then use a knife or pizza slice to cut the leather into 1 inch wide strips, lay them on and then and roll them up in greaseproof (wax) paper and put into an air-tight jar.

It is said that fruit leather, if dried properly, and stored in a cool, dark, dry location in air tight container will last for many months or even years.

Article Published: 19:38, 25th Nov 2010

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