Why You Should Try to Make Fruit Leather

This easy, tasty snack is a great way to use an abundance of seasonal fruit.

fruit leathers

Matthieu Deuté / Wikimedia Commons

If you have fruit growing in your garden and are looking for ways to make the most of it, then making fruit leather could be an interesting option to consider. Today, I thought I would share some information on fruit leather—what it is, how I make it, and why I think this can be a useful way to use up some of your fruit harvests. 

What Is Fruit Leather?

Fruit leather is a thin preparation of a fruit puree, partially dried to give it a chewy texture, like the chewy fruit sweets or fruit roll-ups that can be bought in a store. 

Unlike when we fully dry fruit for longer-term preservation, our goal with this project is not to remove as much water as possible from the fruit, but rather to remove enough water to give a leathery but still slightly moist texture.

The fruit leather can be cut into pieces or rolled up in sheets for later use. While you can simply use fruit on its own, the fruit is also often combined with sugar or another sweetener, and you can also add spices or other seasonings to taste. 

Fruit leather will typically keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a week or two. 

How to Make Fruit Leather

The actual process of making fruit leather is not difficult at all. All you need is the fruit and whatever other ingredients you decide to add, a baking tray, and an oven.

You can make it with a wide range of different fruits. In the past I have made some with strawberries and other berries, some with plums, and some with apples. The first thing that you need to decide is which fruit you will use and how sweet or tart you would like the fruit leather to taste.

Stew or blend the fruit until you have a puree—the smoother, the better. I use an immersion blender but you can manage without. With berries, you will most likely wish to strain the puree to get rid of the seeds.

Next, spread this puree onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking tray. Try to make the layer around five millimeters thick. The goal is to spread it thin enough that it can turn leathery and chewy, but not so thin that it will full dehydrate and crisp up.

Place the tray into a preheated oven, set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The low temperature allows the fruit to dry while minimizing the risk of burning. 

How long the fruit leather takes to dry out sufficiently will depend on the fruits that you have used and the other ingredients you have added. It can range from two to three hours for drier fruits, to four hours or perhaps longer if a wetter puree has been used.

It is a good idea to check regularly, from around 2.5 hours in, that the fruit is drying out well. You should be looking for a tacky texture. When it is ready, it will look more like a soft leather than a mushy pulp.

When you think that the fruit leather might be done, based on its appearance, take it out of the oven. Once it has cooled for at least 20 minutes, gently lift a small corner and check to see if the underside is also firm. If not, turn the leather over and return it to the oven for a little longer. Alternatively, if you have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate the fruit puree overnight using this device.

If the fruit leather is ready, take a pizza cutter or a pair of scissors and cut it into pieces or strips. Many people use waxed paper to roll the fruit leather into strips. I simply place pieces into a clean glass dish with a silicone lid, using beeswax wraps between layers to prevent them from sticking to one another.

Sometimes I will also cut the leather into smaller pieces and store these in the fridge in an airtight jar.

Why Making Fruit Leather Is a Good Idea

We don't have any kids in our home, but if you do, making fruit leather is a great way to get them to eat more fruit. It is healthy and you can control exactly how much sugar (if any) goes into it. If your kids like tangy fruit sweets or fruit roll-ups, this is a money-saving idea for snacks and school lunch boxes.

But adults too can enjoy the fruit leather as a snack, especially if you add some spices or even give it a bit of a kick with some chile, for example. Those who are not a big fan of sweets can enjoy a tart apple fruit leather, or a "Cowboy Candy"-type fruit leather with chiles instead.

Fruit leather is a good evening snack and useful on a long journey so you don't buy unhealthy snacks en route.

We sometimes snack on the pieces of fruit leather as they are. But I also like to cut it into small pieces because I enjoy the chewy texture in a cereal blend—in muesli or granola—in place of raisins (since grapes don't grow well where I live).

Fruit leather can help you make the most of the fruit from your garden or your local area, and might even help you use up the byproduct from other preserving recipes. So, why not make some for yourself and perfect your own fruit leather recipes?