Michele and Fruit Leather

Best Fruit Leather Recipe with 20 Tips for Success

Best Fruit Leather Recipe with 20 Tips for Success

Use your dehydrator to transform backyard fruit into jammy, sweet, portable fruit leather snacks with no unidentifiable ingredients! 20 simple tips for success make it easy!

This is a preserving project that yields top notch results. It starts in summer, when the berries and summer fruits are heavy on the vines and branches and you’re too busy to do anything with them.

Simply stash those fruit in the freezer until you are ready to deal with them, deliciously!

Once harvest season is over and your fall preserving is in the pantry, gather your supplies and begin pureeing!

You don’t need special silicone mats or trays for your dehydrator, just a roll of unbleached parchment paper.

I mentioned using extra berries from your freezer, but of course you can use fresh as well. I often find myself with not enough time to tackle all my preserving projects in summer, so I stash extra fruit and berries in the freezer until I’m ready to deal with them. This might be a strategy that works for you, too. Freeze excess fruit and berries until your main preserving is done and you have time to make fruit leather.

full batch of fruit leather in Excalibur dehydrator

This recipe is tailored to a square dehydrator like the Excalibur.

Directions for using a round dehydrator are below Flavor Combo Ideas

Supplies:

  • Dehydrator
  • Roll of unbleached parchment paper, available in grocery stores next to plastic wrap and aluminum foil
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Blender, does not need to be a high speed blender, a regular home blender is fine
  • Rubber spatula
  • Offset spatula (the kind used for cake decorating)
  • 2 cup liquid measuring cup
  • Roll of masking tape
  • Jars with lids for storage (if you’re repurposing, make sure it has no odor) 

Ingredients:

Fruit of choice, thawed if using frozen fruit

Applesauce (recommended for nice consistency of finished product)

Directions:

1.  Thaw fruit overnight in the fridge in a bowl to catch drips or use fresh, ripe, flavorful fruit that has been washed. Puree singly or in combination.  It is not necessary to peel most fruits. Leave that peel on for its valuable fiber, or peel just a portion of the fruit.

Make paper backing for your fruit leather sheets. Lay a dehydrator screen on parchment paper, trace around it with a pencil, and use scissors to cut out as many sheets as needed. This is a great job for kids. Lay the parchment squares on each tray of your dehydrator with the screens in place.  

3.  Taste the puree.  Remember that as the fruit dries and moisture evaporates, flavor will concentrate.

  • If it tastes bland, add a little lemon juice or ascorbic acid (vitamin C crystals) to perk up the flavor
  • If it is too tart, add a banana or applesauce or a touch of honey or maple syrup to sweeten
  • If the puree is too thin, add applesauce, banana, or 1 teaspoon instant pectin per 2 cups puree (the kind used to make freezer jam)

4.  Measure and pour 2 cups of puree onto the prepared tray in a squarish shape.  Using an offset spatula spread the puree evenly about ¼ inch thick, slightly thicker at the edges and thinner in the middle for more even drying.

5.  Dry at 135° F (57 °C) until dry and leathery with no moist patches, anywhere from 8-12 hours for a full dehydrator load.  Leather should be tacky (but not gummy) and pliable; not crisp or hard.   For even drying, rotate trays when they are half done, turning them front to back.

6.  Using a clean pair of scissors, cut each sheet of fruit leather (with its parchment backing) into 4 servings. Roll each piece into a cigar shape and secure with a piece of masking tape wrapped around its middle. Ends of tape must overlap slightly in order to stick.

7.   Store fruit leather in clean jars in a cool dark cupboard at room temperature. Storing your fruit leather in glass will prolong its shelf life to a year. It will still taste fresh in a year, whereas storing it in plastic bags or containers causes fruit leather to lose flavor and quality much more quickly, about 3 months. 

Flavor Combo Ideas

Below are some of the flavors I have tried that met with family approval.

Remember, 2 cups puree = 1 large square sheet of fruit leather; 1 ½ cups puree = 1 round sheet of fruit leather.

Berry – Applesauce (blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, etc.)

Plum – Berry (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc)

Peach – Banana

Peach – Pear

Blackberry – Pear

Blackberry – Peach

Mixed Berry (berries tend to be juicy; they’re improved by adding at least 1/3 applesauce to give body to the puree without changing the taste)

Rhubarb – Strawberry – Applesauce

Garden Tomato (add 1/2 tsp low sugar pectin per 2 cups puree; this one can be eaten as a snack or rehydrated in water and used as tomato sauce in recipes)

Pizza (sprinkle fresh or dried herbs over ‘garden tomato’ puree… basil, oregano, garlic salt, red pepper flakes)

Chocolate Banana (bananas + a squeeze of lemon + 1 Tbs cocoa powder + ½ tsp vanilla) Bananas are good mixed with applesauce.

pumpkin Pie (1 ½ cup applesauce + ½ cup pumpkin puree + 1 tsp pectin + 1 Tbs honey + ¼ tsp cinnamon + 2 shakes each cloves and nutmeg)

Round Dehydrator

Cut parchment paper into circles by tracing around a tray with a pencil and cutting out the circle in the center.  Use the back of a large spoon to spread 1 ½ cups fruit puree evenly onto each parchment paper-lined tray. Rotate trays from top to bottom after 4 hours to promote even drying and, when done, cut into 3 or 4 pie-shaped wedges for individual servings. Roll each piece up like a cigar and secure around the middle with a piece of masking tape as directed in step 6.

20 Tips for Success with Fruit Leather

  1. Freeze extra fruit until your main preserving is done; make fruit leather in the off season
  2. Special mats or trays aren’t needed, use parchment paper
  3. An offset spatula (12-inch) makes spreading puree quick and easy
  4. Make sure storage jars are odor-free; leave open in the sun until they smell clean
  5. Use scissors to cut parchment paper neatly (much easier than the cutter on the box)
  6. Thaw frozen fruit overnight in a bowl in the fridge
  7. A full gallon size bag of frozen fruit yields about 6 cups of puree
  8. Add applesauce for pliable fruit leather
  9. Aim for a puree with a fruit smoothie texture
  10. Flavor intensifies as fruit dries
  11. Adjust the flavor if it is too tart (applesauce, banana, honey, or maple syrup) or too bland (lemon juice or ascorbic acid)
  12. If fruit is very juicy, use instant pectin to thicken
  13. Measure 2 cups puree and pour from a measuring cup
  14. Pour the puree in a square-ish shape on parchment paper lined dehydrator tray
  15. Spread puree 1/2-inch thick; thinner in the center, thicker at the edges
  16. Use edge of offset spatula to scrape puree back from the edge
  17. 2 cups puree needed for each square tray; 18 cups for a full load (1 1/2 cups for round dehydrator trays)
  18. Rotate trays partway through drying
  19. Evaluate each sheet of fruit leather individually for doneness
  20. For best flavor, store fruit leather in glass jars

Bonus Tips

  1. Keep a running list of cooking and food preserving equipment that you want/need for when someone asks for holiday gift ideas
  2. 2 cups fruit puree makes 4 servings. Each serving = 1/2 cup fruit puree
  3. Fruit for fruit leather does not need to be perfect
  4. Make full batches of fruit leather – fill the dehydrator
  5. Do your own cost comparison
Print

Best Fruit Leather Recipe with 20 Tips for Success

Use your dehydrator to transform excess backyard fruit into jammy-sweet portable snacks with no unidentifiable ingredients. This is a preserving project that yields top notch results. It starts in summer, when the berries and summer fruits are heavy on the vines and branches and you’re too busy to do anything with them. Fill your dehydrator to make the best use of your time.

  • Author: Michele Pryse, FNTP
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 10 hours
  • Total Time: 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 36 servings
  • Category: preserving
  • Method: dehydrator
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For a full dehydrator load (9 square trays):

2 gallon bags of fruit, fresh or thawed 

3 pints applesauce

 

Supplies:

·      Dehydrator, I use a 9-tray Excalibur

·      Roll of unbleached parchment paper, available in grocery stores next to plastic wrap and aluminum foil

·      Pencil

·      Scissors

·      Blender, does not need to be a high-speed blender, a regular home blender is fine

·      Rubber spatula

·      Offset spatula (the kind used for cake decorating)

·      2 cup liquid measuring cup

·      Roll of masking tape

·      Jars with lids for storage (if you’re repurposing, make sure it has no odor) 

Instructions

1.  Make paper backing for your fruit leather sheets. Lay a dehydrator screen on parchment paper, trace around it with a pencil, and cut out as many sheets as needed. Great job for kids. Lay the parchment squares on each tray of your dehydrator with the screens in place.

 

2.  Wash and puree ripe, flavorful fruit (or use frozen fruit that has been thawed) singly or in combination.  It is not necessary to peel most fruits. Leave that peel on for its valuable fiber, or peel just a portion of the fruit.

 

3.  Taste the puree.  Remember that as the fruit dries, flavor will concentrate. 

 

·      If it tastes bland, add a little lemon juice or ascorbic acid (vitamin C crystals) to perk up the flavor

 

·      If it is too tart add a banana or applesauce, or a touch of honey or maple syrup to sweeten

 

·      If the puree is too thin add applesauce, banana, or 1/2 tsp instant pectin per 2 cups puree

 

4.  Measure and pour 2 cups of puree onto the prepared tray in a squarish shape.  Using an offset spatula spread the puree evenly about ¼ inch thick, slightly thicker at the edges and thinner in the middle for more even drying. 

 

5.  Dry at 135° F (57 °C) until dry and leathery with no moist patches, anywhere from 8-12 hours for a full dehydrator load.  Leather should be tacky (but not gummy) and pliable; not crisp or hard.  For even drying, rotate trays when they are half done, turning them front to back.

 

6.  Using a clean pair of scissors, cut each sheet of fruit leather (with its parchment backing) into 4 servings: Roll each piece into a cigar shape and secure with a piece of masking tape wrapped around its middle. Ends of tape must overlap slightly in order to stick. 

 

 

7.  Store fruit leather in clean jars in a cool dark cupboard at room temperature. Storing your fruit leather in glass will prolong its shelf life to a year. It will still taste fresh in a year, whereas storing it in plastic bags or containers causes fruit leather to lose flavor and quality much more quickly, about 3 months. 

Notes

Round Dehydrator ~ 

Cut parchment paper into circles by tracing around a tray with a pencil and cutting out the circle in the center.  Use a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon to spread 1 ½ cups fruit puree evenly onto each parchment paper-lined tray. Rotate trays from top to bottom after 4 hours to promote even drying and, when done, cut into 3 or 4 pie-shaped wedges for individual servings. Roll each piece up like a cigar and secure around the middle with a piece of masking tape as directed in step 6.

Flavor Combos:

Below are some of the flavors I have tried that met with family approval.

Remember, 2 cups puree = 1 large square sheet of fruit leather; 1 ½ cups puree = 1 round sheet of fruit leather.

 

plum – berry (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc)

applesauce – strawberry (or any other berry)

peach – banana

peach – pear

blackberry – pear

blackberry – peach

mixed berry (berries tend to be juicy; they’re improved by adding at least 1/3 applesauce to give body to the puree without changing the taste)

rhubarb – strawberry – applesauce

garden tomato (add 1 tsp pectin per 2 cups puree; this one can be eaten as a snack or rehydrated in water and used as tomato sauce in recipes)

pizza (sprinkle fresh or dried herbs over ‘garden tomato’ puree… basil, oregano, garlic salt, red pepper flakes)

chocolate banana (bananas + a squeeze of lemon + 1 Tbs cocoa powder + ½ tsp vanilla) Bananas are good mixed with applesauce.

pumpkin pie (1 ½ cup applesauce + ½ cup pumpkin puree + 1 tsp pectin + 1 Tbs honey + ¼ tsp cinnamon + 2 shakes each cloves and nutmeg)

Keywords: fruit leather, dehydrator, money saving, snacks, pantry

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag me — I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Notes:

Start in the morning. It takes about 8-12 hours to dry a full dehydrator load, less time (much less) if you are only drying a few sheets of fruit leather. If you start in the afternoon or evening, you will be faced with a dehydrator that needs attention in the middle of the night, which leads me to the next tip…

Don’t allow dehydrator to sit turned “off” for any length of time – insects will find it! Yes, they will. When the heat and fan are turned off, insects see it as in invitation to come in and lay eggs in your fruit leather.

If you didn’t heed the tip above, pasteurize your fruit leather to kill any potential buggies. How? Place the covered jar of fruit leather in the freezer for 3 days. You can then remove the jar from the freezer and store at room temp. 

Drink water when eating dehydrated foods! 

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