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Making Fruit Leathers

Leathers from Fresh Fruit

Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit. Wash fresh fruit or berries in cool water. Remove peel, seeds, and stem. Cut fruit into chunks. Use 2 cups of fruit for each 13-inch by 15-inch fruit leather. Purse fruit until smooth. 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.

If you choose to sweeten the leather, add corn syrup, honey, or sugar. Corn syrup or honey is best for longer storage because they do not crystallize. Sugar is fine for immediate use or short storage. Use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups 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 may also be used to make leathers. Drain fruit and save liquid. Use 1 pint of fruit for each 13-inch by 15-inch leather. Purse fruit until smooth--if too thick, add liquid. 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. 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-inch by 15-inch 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, purchase specially designed plastic sheets or line plastic trays with plastic wrap.

Pouring the Leather

Fruit leathers can be poured into a single large sheet (13-inch by 15-inch) or into several smaller sizes pieces. 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 degrees 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 leather from plastic and roll. Then, allow the leather 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.

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