Fruit Leather for Food Storage
How to Make Fruit “Roll Ups”–No Recipe Required
Recipes abound for fruit leathers (fruit “roll ups”); I never use a recipe. I just throw stuff into a blender until it is a thick consistency, smear it onto a paraflexx sheet, and put it into my Excalibur Dehydrator on 135° F. Here are the main tricks:
1) Use the freshest fruit possible. Certain fruits (berries, cherries, etc) are best boiled down into a sauce first.
2) Add a banana to thicken it to a paste
3) Add some honey as a sweetener.
4) Leaving the peels can add texture; some love it, some do not. Use your preference.
For the step-by-step instructions below, I had made cherry fruit leathers, using my super-handy cherry pitter.
I check on the fruit leathers several times, but not usually until I hit the 5-6 hour mark. Processing time varies for climate, temperature and most importantly—the water content of your particular fruit leather mixture. Make sure that it peels easily off of the paraflexx sheet but does not have any wet spots. These are spots where, if you poked it with your finger, you actually get the jam onto your finger and you left a hole (think: when I sneaked a lick of icing off of the birthday cake). Give it another hour or so.
If you over-dehydrated it and ended up with a firm sheet, no worries! Congratulations, you now have dehydrated pancake syrup. Just store it in a canning jar (preferably with an oxygen absorber). On Pancake/Waffle Morning, just put about ½ cup water into a small saucepan and start to boil, put some of your dehydrated syrup into it and turn down the heat immediately. Stir and remove from heat when you have the World’s Tastiest Homemade Syrup—and no corn syrup to boot. You are Parent of the Year.
I love to turn vegetables into leathers (“roll ups”) too—pumpkin is amazing with some apple pie & dessert spice and honey. Zucchini is fairly simple to slip into something with a stronger flavor, like a rich applesauce. It’s a great way to sneak a veggie into a child’s mid-day snacktime. If you aren’t in Veggie-Stealth-Mode, you can see it as a wonderful “well-rounded” addition to your afternoon hike, an emergency stash for the car or backpack, or just a way to treat your family to intense flavors and colors in a healthy way.
We frequently get asked about the best way to store fruit leathers. This is what I do:
Peel the fruit leather off of the paraflexx sheet and move it to a cutting board (you don’t want to risk cutting your sheet by accident). Paraflexx sheets are reusable… For-ev-er. I think mine are at least 6 years old-ish.
Using kitchen scissors, cut your fruit leather into thirds. Yes, we get 3 out of a single paraflexx sheet. Keep this in mind when you buy these nonstick sheets—you do not always need 9 of them for a 9 tray (I’m a terrible salesperson; I’m talking you into less, not more). I have 6 quite happily. Sometimes I wish I had a few more but I rarely use all 6 at once anyway.
Use Nonstick Baking Paper. This paper is also reusable! That means that you can store them with your paraflexx sheets and keep those fruit leathers a’comin’! An alternative: you can also repurpose the wax bag from boxed cereal if you eat the stuff (we cut it out of our home and actually stay full until lunch now, with more energy).
Cut the baking paper to size, leaving slightly longer than the leather.
Fold the baking paper over the leather, then roll.
Place all of the leathers into a vacuum-sealable bag (either pre-cut bags or cut your own with a roll of bag material), and vacuum seal! We do recommend using an oxygen absorber when vacuum sealing, too, as a safeguard. These stay fresh for over a year this way if stored out of the sunlight in a cool storage area.
Produce, Prepare, and Preserve. Enjoy those yummy fruit (and veggie) leathers all year around!
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Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.