Let the kids help you make fruit into a pocket friendly treat.
Employ a time-tested method of food preservation—drying—to make sweet and nutritious fruit leather. Pureed or mashed fruit is spread out to dry in a thin layer; later it can be rolled up and sliced into easy-to-pack servings. This snack can’t be bruised in a backpack, doesn’t need refrigeration and provides healthful, quick energy. Plus, the homemade version eschews artificial sweeteners and additives like starches or food coloring. In fact, while some major brands add vitamins, they also replace much of the fruit puree with concentrate. Make our version and benefit from the whole fruit’s fiber and vitamins.
The kids will have fun making it, too. Whether they pick the fruit from the tree or the supermarket, they will enjoy creating signature recipes, like apple-pear, apricot-plum or cinnamon apple-strawberry. Four cups of fruit in any combination means lots of choices. Add a bit of jam instead of sugar and the flavors are practically endless. Better yet, if you use well-ripened fruit, you won’t need to add any sweetener at all. Children will enjoy spreading it onto the prepared pan—and then rolling it up when it’s dry. Make a bunch and keep it on hand; you’ll save money when you take advantage of a sale or an abundance of seasonal fruit. No matter how you slice it, fruit leather offers your family a great grab-and-go snack.
Makes 1 large sheet
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5-6 hours
Note: Use well-ripened fruit and skip the sweetener.
4 cups chopped pears
4 cups chopped apples
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
Optional: ¼ cup sugar or 2-3 Tablespoons jam, or to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 150°F.
2. Place a layer of plastic wrap on a baking sheet.
3. Wash the pears and apples well, core and remove seeds, and chop.
4. Heat the sugar (if using) in the water and stir until dissolved.
5. Add the apples and cook on medium just until the apples begin to soften.
6. Let the apple mixture cool slightly and then place into a blender or food processor with the pears, lemon juice and jam (if using).
7. Cover and puree until smooth. (Add water a teaspoon at a time to aid blending if necessary.)
8. Spread the puree evenly over the prepared pan, about ¼-inch thick, and place in the oven to dry.
9. Fruit is ready when the surface is not tacky. Remove from the oven, roll it up and cut into desired lengths. Store in an airtight container.
Written and photographed by Hillary Black