Entertain me as I make an analogy between fruit leather and fruit rollups. Fruit rollups conjure the images of a cheesy 1980s music video where girls are dancing around in neon colored leotards and leg warmers. Tacky. Fruit rollups dye your tongue a color that would put Nickelodeon’s slime green color to shame.
Fruit leather? Simple and versatile. Not quite to the level of “I am le French pastry, bonjour mademoiselle” like tarte aux pouivre, but something with a little more American charm.
Most fruit leather only features one, at most two fruits. While the basics are good, this method of preparing fruit leaves a lot of room for improvement and creativity. Here are two of my latest creations:
Granny smith apple and bosc pear fruit with hints of cardamom and cinnamon
Cranberry and apple with a splash of grand marnier and orange zest.
The recipe below is a generic one where you can experiment with a different variety of fruits, spices, and alcohols.
- Fresh fruit (apricots, peaches, plums, berries, apples, pears)
- Lemon juice
- Sugar (if needed)
- Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
1 Rinse the fruit. If you working with stone fruit, take out the pits, chop the fruit. If working with apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop. If working with grapes, de-stem them.
Taste the fruit before proceeding. Note how sweet the fruit is. If very sweet (ripe Concord grapes for example) you will not need to add any sugar. If still a little tart, you may need to add some sugar in the next step.
2 Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add a half cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan. Taste the fruit and determine what and how much sugar, lemon juice, or spices to add. Add sugar in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time if working with 4 cups of fruit), to desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time to help brighten the flavor of the fruit. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to augment the flavor.
Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes (or more).
3 Put the purée through a food mill or chinoise. Alternatively purée it thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.
4 Line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe). Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
5 Place the baking sheet in the oven, try to keep any plastic wrap from touch the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather. We usually keep it in the oven overnight, so about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface.
Alternatives to the oven. If you have a food dehydrator, this would be a great use of it.
6 When the fruit leather is ready, you can easily peel it up from the plastic wrap. To store it, roll it in its plastic wrap, put it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
4 cups of fruit yield about one baking sheet of fruit leather.
Adapted from Simplyrecipes.com