Mixed Berry Fruit Leather

October 24, 2012

Mixed Berry, Apple, Banana & Kiwi Fruit Leather

As a kid, I probably ate miles of Fruit Rollups.  I'm sure the ratio of fruit to HFCS was so out of whack that it surely wouldn't pass muster these days.  Much like leftover vegetables make great pickles, leftover fruit can be a good start to Homemade Fruit Leather.  My preference for a base is mixed berries, but It's really all up to you what to include.


Rolls of Homemade Fruit Leather
Rolls of Homemade Fruit Leather
If you have a dehydrator, fruit leather is super easy to make.  (Also check out my Garlic Beef Jerky dehydrator recipe)  I'll typically blend the fruit in the evening, refrigerate and pour onto sheets.  By morning, the house smells like a fruit factory and the fruit leather sheets are ready.  Speaking of sheets, there are commercial sheets available, but I've found that Parchment Paper works just fine.  Just don't use wax paper, or anything plastic based, or it will melt horrendously.    

The key to making it moderately shelf stable, and still pretty sweet, is the balance of lemon juice and honey.  My rule of thumb is to use 1T of Lemon Juice and 1T of Honey for every cup of fruit puree. The acid in the lemon juice is important here to prevent spoilage.


My home blender is a 4-cup model, so I'll start by filling it almost halfway with thawed mixed berries that I buy in large quantities, such as these 4lb bags from Costco.  Though in the summertime, when fresh berries are at their peak, I'll load it up with fresh strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.  

It's a great use those times when you completely overbuy because of the great prices at a roadside farmstand.  For us, that doesn't really happen all that often since we live in Chicago, which has no farms.  Just Farmers Markets that aren't exactly known for their great bargains.

However, we do travel back and forth a few times a year to both Indiana and Michigan, and in the summer are on the hunt for signs indicating farmstands.  Though you definitely will not see these along the Skyway or any of the state roads.  For some bizarre reason, all signage has been completely bought up to target people looking for an accident and injury attorneys.  It's non stop billboards for motorcycle accidents, truckers, lawsuits and more.  One of the best is directly in front of one of the old Gary steel mills and advertises for personal injury attorneys for industrial and worker cases.

Once you get away from all of that, you start seeing signs in Michigan for blueberries.  Most of them are "U-Pick" places that give you a large bucket and you pay by the pound.  You get a lot of blueberries this way.  Further down in Southern Indiana are melon farms.  One time we even saw an old school bus that was painted blue and was filled to the tops with watermelons.  Since fresh produce has a short shelf life, and freezing doesn't seem worth the hassle, fruit leather becomes a great output.

Fresh fruit in a blender
Fresh fruit in a blender

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Mixed Berry Fruit Leather Recipe
Homemade fruit leather made in a dehydrator
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 10"x10" sheets
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Mixed Berries
  • 2 Peeled and Chopped Apples (sweet, preferably not a Granny Smith)
  • 1 Sliced Banana
  • 3 Kiwis
  • 4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 cup 100% Fruit Juice (such as apple)
Instructions
  1. Add the berries, banana and kiwis to your blender with a little bit of the apple juice to help it blend. Your goal here is to get a nice puree that you can spread on the sheets. If it is too chunky, and small amounts of the fruit juice, but be careful to not get it too thin.
  2. Line each of your dehydrator trays with parchment paper and pour a thin layer onto each tray. Having a 10 tray dehydrator, and knowing how quickly this gets eaten, I'll usually make two batches.
  3. Dehydrate at 135 degrees for 8 hours. The center is the last part to cook, which you can poke at to see if it has cooked all the way. If not, keep cooking in 30 minute increments



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