I first tried my hand at homemade fruit leather last spring, and since then, it’s become one of my favorite snacks to make for the whole family. It’s easy, and the resulting fruit leather is sweet yet tangy, chewy and sticky, just like the fruit roll-ups at the store, but with a lot less sugar (or none at all). All you need to do is puree the fruit, spread it on a baking sheet, and bake it at a low temperature for a day. Yes, a day. It takes quite a few hours, but you don’t have to babysit it. You can make fruit leather with just about any type of fruit, but my favorites is strawberry, with mango being a close second (what can I say? I’m a purist when it comes to fruit roll-ups).
I made a batch of strawberry fruit roll-ups yesterday in anticipation of our traveling this week. Recipes for baked fruit leather abound online; I compiled what I liked best from several recipes.
Homemade Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
Makes 8-10 roll-ups, depending on how you cut the fruit leather
- 2.5 to 3 cups fresh strawberries
- Up to 1/4 cup sugar, if desired
- One lemon
- One to two tablespoons of water
Rinse, hull and cut the strawberries. You don’t need to chop them finely or make the pieces uniform. I just quartered each one.
Add a tablespoon or two of water, stir gently to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed, then set the saucepan over low heat. Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes, or until the liquid starts bubbling and the berries begin breaking down. You’ll still have tons of intact berries when you’re done, but you’ll also have a lot of liquid. (You don’t have to do the simmering step; you can just skip ahead to the pureeing, but I personally like the taste of strawberry fruit leather better when the fruit’s been simmered beforehand. It’s less acidic, and the strawberry flavor is stronger.)
Once the berries are done simmering, remove the pan from heat and let the mixture cool until warm. Transfer the contents to a blender or food processor, add the sugar (if desired; I use about 1/8 cup), then process everything together until smooth. At this point, preheat the oven to 170 degrees F.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with baking spray (or brush ever so slightly with vegetable oil), then line the baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. You’ll also want to spray or brush the top of the baking sheet with just a tiny bit of oil. You can skip these steps (and many people do), but I find that the fruit leather is a LOT easier to remove from the pan — and later, easier for the person eating it to remove from the paper — if you grease it just a little bit.
Once your baking sheet’s prepped, pour the pureed fruit onto the wax or parchment paper. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly, close to the edges of the paper.
Gently slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven, then let it bake for anywhere from five to 10 hours, depending on how thickly you’ve spread the fruit mixture. Mine went for five hours. Every couple of hours, I’d check the surface of the fruit leather. It’s done when the top is a little tacky (that means sticky but doesn’t stay on your fingers when you touch it). You’ll be able to press down on it without having any fruit leather stick to your fingers. I also rotated the baking sheet every so often to prevent one side from being done more quickly. The edges of mine are always a bit drier than the middle, but I don’t mind. I’ve read that some people will mist the edges of their fruit leather with water from a spray bottle every hour during baking to prevent this, but I’m too lazy. 🙂
Your fruit leather will look like this when it comes out of the oven.
Let it cool completely on the baking sheet. Then, with a pair of clean, sharp kitchen shears, cut the fruit leather (with wax paper still attached) into even sheets. I usually cut it into eight or ten sheets. Unfortunately, I totally spaced at this point in the process (I was also trying to get dinner together, and the boys were screaming like banshees in the background) and neglected to take any pictures, but it’s pretty straightforward. After you’ve cut the fruit leather, roll each piece up, then tie it with a ribbon. Store the fruit roll-ups in an airtight container at room temperature. When you’re ready to eat them, untie the ribbon, unroll the fruit leather, and peel it from the paper.
This picture is from the Facebook album that was the precursor of this blog. I took it last year; it’s not the prettiest picture, but you get the idea!