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    • Drying Fruit Leathers

      by Susan Reynolds, M.S.


      Fruit leathers are homemade fruit rolls. They are a tasty chewy, dried fruit product. Fruit leathers are made by pouring pursed fruit onto a flat surface for drying. When dried, the fruit is pulled from the surface and rolled. It gets the name "leather" from the fact that when the pursed fruit is dried, it is shiny and has the texture of leather.


      The advantages of making your own fruit leathers are to save money use less sugar and to mix fruit flavors. Leftover fruit pulp from making jelly can be blended and made into fruit rolls.
      For the diabetic adult or child, fruit leathers made without sugar are a healthy choice for snacks or desserts. Individual fruit leathers should contain the amount of fruit allowed for the fruit exchange.
      Directions follow for making fruit leathers. Fresh, frozen or drained canned fruit can be used.



      LEATHERS FROM FRESH FRUIT
      1. Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit.
      2. Wash fresh fruit or berries in cool water. Remove peel, seeds and stem.
      3. Cut fruit into chunks. Use 2 cups of fruit for each 13" X 15" fruit leather. Pulse fruit until smooth.
      4. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid (375 mg) for each 2 cups of light colored fruit to prevent darkening.
      5. To sweeten, add corn syrup, honey or sugar. Corn syrup or honey is best for longer storage because it prevents crystals. Sugar is fine for immediate use or short storage. Use ¼ to ½ cup sugar, corn syrup or honey for each 2 cups of fruit. Saccharin-based sweeteners could also be used to reduce tartness without adding calories. Aspartame sweeteners may lose sweetness during drying.

      LEATHERS FROM CANNED OR FROZEN FRUIT
      Home preserved or store-bought canned or frozen fruit can be used.
      Drain fruit, save liquid.
      1. Use 1 pint of fruit for each 13" X 15" leather.
      2. Pulse fruit until smooth. If thick, add liquid.
      3. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid (375 mg) for each 2 cups of light colored fruit to prevent darkening.
      4. Applesauce can be dried alone or added to any fresh fruit purse as an extender. It decreases tartness and makes the leather smoother and more pliable.

      PREPARING THE TRAYS
      For drying in the oven a 13" X 15" cookie pan with edges works well. Line pan with plastic wrap being careful to smooth out wrinkles. Do not use waxed paper or aluminum foil.
      To dry in a dehydrator, specially designed plastic sheets can be purchased or plastic trays can be lined with plastic wrap.

      POURING THE LEATHER
      Fruit leathers can be poured into a single large sheet (13 " X 15 ") or into several smaller sizes. Spread puree evenly about 1/8-inch thick, onto drying tray. Avoid pouring purse too close to the edge of the cookie sheet. The larger fruit leathers take longer to dry. Approximate drying times are 6 to 8 hours in a dehydrator, up to 18 hours in an oven and 1 to 2 days in the sun.

      DRYING THE LEATHER
      Dry fruit leathers at l40°F. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching center of leather; no indention should be evident. While warm, peel from plastic and roll, allow to cool and rewrap the roll in plastic.
      Chances are the fruit leather won't last long enough for storage. If it does, it will keep up to 1 month at room temperature. For storage up to 1 year, place tightly wrapped rolls in the freezer.

      Spices, Flavors and Garnishes
      To add interest to your fruit leathers; spices, flavorings or garnishes can be added.

      Spices to Try
      Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. Use sparingly, start with 1/8 teaspoon for each 2 cups of puree.

      Flavorings to Try

      Almond extract, lemon juice, lemon peel, lime juice, lime peel, orange extract, orange juice, orange peel or vanilla extract. Use sparingly, try 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon for each 2 cups of purse.

      Delicious Additions to Try
      Shredded coconut, chopped dates, other dried chopped fruits, granola, miniature marshmallows, chopped nuts, chopped raisins, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or sunflower seeds.

      Fillings to Try
      Melted chocolate, softened cream cheese, cheese spreads, jam, preserves, marmalade, marshmallow cream or peanut butter. Spread one or more of these on the leather after it's dried and then roll. Store in refrigerator.



      Footnotes
      1. This document is Fact Sheet FCS 8502, a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: June 1998. First published: February 1994. Reviewed: June 1998.
      2. Written by Susan Reynolds, M.S., former Extension Foods Specialist, University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Athens. Reviewed for use in Florida by Mark L. Tamplin, associate professor, Food Safety Specialist, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

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      Comments 6 Comments
      1. I'm not familiar with the term purse in relation to cooking. Did you mean puree the fruit?

        Regards,
        Malcolm.
      1. FreebieQueen's Avatar
        Thank you Malcom, that should be "Pulse", not 'purse'.
      1. Rie142's Avatar
        My sons both have made their own fruit leather after watching me make it. We have always had fun doing it. Now that they are all grown up I have no need for it. However it was always easy and fun.

        Wish we had had all this information when we were first starting out.
      1. MsDebbie's Avatar
        What a great way to save extra fruit instead of tossing it into the compost pile!
      1. shaylynn's Avatar
        Can you use parchment paper instead of plastic wrap?
      1. shaylynn's Avatar
        Guess my other post got lost lol....can we use parchment paper in place of plastic wrap?

        Thanks

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