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
LEATHERS FROM CANNED OR FROZEN FRUIT
Home preserved or store-bought canned or frozen fruit can be used.
Drain fruit, save liquid.
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.
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.