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If you have a toddler you understand the picky eater woes. How a child can become obsessed with a food one day, and absolutely hate it the next. My daughter has always loved blueberries, in fact even when she first began eating solids, blueberry was her first fruit love and she gobbled them down like there was no tomorrow.
So imagine my surprise when I recently stocked up on 2lbs of fresh blueberries when they were on sale, only for her to decide that blueberries are gross and should be fed to the dog instead. I contemplated the usual recipes – everything from muffins to ice cream to smoothies and everything in between.
I decided to do fruit leathers. Why? Because everyone likes fruit roll-ups and my daughter eats applesauce at her second snack every day, which is messy to carry around when we GO places or DO things! A fruit leather would be the perfect substitute.
There are five things I LOVE about dehydrating foods.
- You control what goes in it!
- It freezes well so you can keep fruit leather in particular for up to a year! (Not that you’d be able to resist eating it long before then)
- While it takes forever to make, if you’re working from home/stay home/sleeping, you can set it in 5 minutes and forget about it.
- HELLO saving money!
- Fruit getting mushy or bruised or dry? Where these may not work well for preserving or baking, they work perfectly for dehydrating! No more waste!
You can get SO creative with fruit leathers: fancy fruit combinations, add in spices, even veggies!
Introduction to Dehydrated Fruit Leathers:
- Choose your fruit(s), and wash carefully, remove any stems, seeds, and skins on things like apples or plums.
- Chop up fruit into bite site pieces (small fruit like raspberries or blueberries you can leave whole) – add to a food processor to puree
- Add 1/2 Teaspoon of lemon juice to every 1 cup of fruit – this helps keep the fruit looking fresh and not darken or discolor during the dehydrating process
- Optionally you can add sugar, corn syrup, or honey to sweeten your fruit. As a generally rule, I add 1/2 Teaspoon of honey to every 1 cup of fruit, but err on the side of too little, and taste test as you go to ensure you don’t over sweeten to your liking! Sugar is better for short term storage (about a week), honey or corn syrup is good for long term storage (month or longer in the freezer). Fake sugars will lose sweetness during the drying process.
So many amazing things to add to your fruit leather, experiment with fruit combinations, and other additions for a unique flavor, here a few ideas:
- Spices: Add 1/8″ teaspoon for every 2 cups of fruit. Consider cinnamon, mint, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie, etc.
- Flavorings: Add 1/8″ teaspoon for every 2 cups of fruit. Consider flavored extracts such as vanilla, almond, mint, etc.
- Additions: Chia seeds, citrus peel zest, shredded coconut, granola, marshmallow, seeds (poppy, sesame, sunflower, etc.)
When your mixture is ready, add your puree to a parchment lined dehydrator tray, or baking sheet about 1/4″ thick.
- In the oven: Set to 170 degrees and bake for 6-8 hours until the fruit is dry to the touch in the center.
- In a dehydrator: Set to 135-140 degrees and dry for 8-12 hours until the fruit is dry to the touch in the center.
*Note: Temperatures over 140 begin to deteriorate the nutrients in the fruit. They are still tasty (and way healthier than anything you buy in the store!) but something to keep in mind if you decide to start making it often, it may be worth investing in a dehydrator to save nutrients and be able to make it in bulk!
When your fruit leather is done, cut into strips, with the parchment paper still attached. The fruit leather will last in a container on your counter for at least a week, in the fridge for closer to a month, and the freezer for up to a year!
Enjoy, and drop your favorite combination in the comments!