by Alicia Bayer
Right now we have tons of fresh blackberries and raspberries in our Minnesota backyard, and I was looking for a new way to use them. I found a wonderfully easy recipe to make fruit leather, and it was a big hit with our whole family.
Not only is this all-natural, but it costs very little (or nothing, if you grow your own berries!) and is a great way to use up fruits that are past their prime. Kids can also have fun mixing and matching fruits. Here’s the recipe, adapted from recycleyourday.com.
2 cups fresh fruit (cleaned, pitted, peeled, etc.)
2–3 Tbsp. honey (raw and local, if possible)
Several drops lemon juice
Blender, sheet pan, parchment paper (optional: food mill or sieve and spoon)
1. Purée your fruit in a blender until well processed. If you like, you can remove the seeds from fruits like blackberries by pressing the purée through a sieve with a spoon or running it through a food mill. We left our seeds in and liked the crunch and extra fiber.
2. Stir honey and lemon juice into the purée. You can adjust the measurements to suit the sweetness of your fruit.
3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and pour the purée mixture overtop to about a 1/8 -inch thickness
4. Dry according to preference. Options for drying include:
- The original recipe calls for cooking it in an oven at 200˚ for approximately 2 hours. I found that our fruit leather needed easily twice this amount of time. Our raspberry/blackberry mixture needed about 4 hours and our strawberry fruit leather needed slightly more. In light of this, I went looking for a more energy-efficient means of drying it.
- Other recipes online call for setting the oven to 140˚ and leaving it overnight. This can cause the fruit leather to become too dry and crack if you’re not careful, and obviously there’s still a fair amount of energy usage.
- Use a food dehydrator.
- You can try the “hot car method,” which is widely recommended online. Put the fruit leather in the back window of a south-facing car on a sunny day. It should take about an afternoon to dry.
- Dry your leather outside. Simply cover it with a clean window screen or tented cheesecloth and leave in a sunny location where it won’t be disturbed.
- Dry it outside in a solar cooker or even under a garden cold frame (a glass cover meant to protect plants from frost).
The fruit leather is ready when it is just slightly sticky to the touch. When it’s ready, it will easily pull off the parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter or kitchen shears to cut it into rectangles to serve, or roll up the rectangles for later. Store it in the refrigerator. A glass jar is a perfect container if you’re not planning on eating it within the day. Ours never lasts that long!
Originally published in Pathways Magazine, issue #50