Fruit Leather!

I'm going to try to make Thanksgiving/Fall themed lunches this week unless the chic REALLY complains about the lack of flowers and frou frou. I'm really looking forward to moving past Thanksgiving, though, so I can make some Christmas lunches. THOSE will be fun!

Cheese curds, Cucumbers, Flaxseed Cranberry and Pecan Crackers, Homemade Fruit Leather over pecans and dried Cranberries, Turkey leaf sandwich.

I've been wanting to try making fruit leather for a long time. But, it seemed like such a time consuming process that I've kinda put it off and put it off. Well, I'm tired of trying to find all fruit fruit leather and I'm tired of paying so much for it. And really, I just love to make anything I can so that I know EXACTLY what is in it. So, after doing some Internet searching, I came up with a plan of attack and went to it. Here's how it went...

I used frozen strawberries this time. Two bags. Unsweetened. They aren't in season right now, or I would have bought fresh. So, I went with four cups of fruit and a half cup of water. I simmered these, covered, for 15 minutes.

(Everything gettin ready to simmer)

I mashed them with a potato masher and continued to cook, uncovered, until they got a bit thicker. This was only supposed to take 15 minutes or so, but I let it cook for a total of about 30 minutes. Next time I will only do 15 minutes, though. I think I let a bit too much water evaporate. You'll understand why in a minute.

(I don't know why my dad's camera keeps doing this, but this is the best one I have of it after I mashed it)

Then I stuck it in the blender and pureed the whole thing. It thickens up quite a bit when pureed. And as a warning...boiling hot strawberry puree WILL fly out of the top of the blender spout, burn your hand, and make a mess out of your kitchen when you hit the "on" button. Just sayin...I ended up putting a pot holder over the spout (after I treated my scalded hand, that is!)

(You shoulda seen the floor around the blender!)

(The Puree)

Everything I read says that you should line a baking sheet with "oven safe" plastic wrap. My plastic wrap is just store brand plastic wrap and it didn't say anywhere on the box that it was "oven safe". I stuck a piece in the microwave to test it and it didn't melt. That was good enough for me, so I used it. Four cups of fruit will make one baking sheet worth of fruit leather. I must warn you, however, that after being in the oven for a while, the edged do shrink up a bit, but the plastic under the fruit was just fine. After lining your baking sheet with plastic wrap, you pour the puree and level it out. This is important because otherwise it won't cook evenly (I know because MINE didn't cook evenly.)

(Ready for the oven)

Turn the oven to "warm" and wait...

and wait...(you can start seeing where it was thicker and not drying as fast)

and wait...

(This is right out of the oven. I tore off the bottom left corner. You know I'm an impatient cook! The bright spot is the sticky spot where it was too thick.)

I left mine in the oven for about 7 hours before pulling it out. It is supposed to be done when there are no sticky spots left, but since I didn't level mine well, I still had a thick spot that was sticky. I decided to pull it out, though, cause I didn't want the rest to get too dry.

Once out of the oven, the plastic wrap just peels off the back.

I tore it into strips and put it in a plastic baggie. At first I thought that it wasn't such a success. I cooked it too long in the initial thickening stage and when I took it out of the oven, parts of it were more crunchy than dried. And I had the sticky spot in the middle because I did a bad leveling job...okay NO leveling job, whatever. BUT I cut out the sticky spot and after being in the plastic baggie, the crunchy bit softened a bunch.

The last thing to do was test it out on the chics. And as luck would have it, we had one of our friend's kids over that day. So, I gave them all a piece and stood back to watch. It's hard to act like you don't care what they think of it. I was standing there trying to act aloof about it, all the while trying to read their facial expressions without outright staring at them. Anyway, a few minutes later, they came back for another piece, and then another. Pretty soon, they had eaten almost the entire baggie! It was a success!

Next time I make it, I will change a few things...I won't cook it for 30 minutes and stick to the 15 minutes in the thickening stage, I will put a pot holder on the blender BEFORE turning the switch on, I will level the puree, and I will make two pans! Oh, and I think I'm gonna try raspberry!


amanda said...

yay! It's good you got all the kinks figured out his time so next time can be flawless!

Astrid said...

That looks pretty neat! I have a dehydrator, but you need the special sheets for it to make fruit leather... might have to try to find them and give it a try. Also, I'd probably use a stick blender to puree. I love my stick blender.

Astrid said...

Yup... just ordered fruit leather sheets for my dehydrator. I couldn't resist. Can't wait to try it out!

The Princess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Huh! I had no idea I could make fruit leather! Thanks for sharing :) ps: you're thick spot kind of looks like a heart turned sideways <3

Michelle said...

Astrid - lemme know how the dehydrator works. I may have to buy one!

Jen - :)

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