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Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

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Posted: August 20, 2012

Fruit roll-ups make a tasty, chewy sweet treat.

Made from dehydrated fruit sauce, these dried rolls provide a concentrated source of energy and flavor. They can be made entirely from fruit, or they may have added sweetening. Fruit roll-up is the modern term for old-fashioned fruit leather—a term that describes the appearance and texture of the product.

Leathers can be made from fresh, frozen or drained canned fruit. Even leftover fruit pulp from making jelly can be made into fruit rolls. Wash, peel, seed and stem fresh fruit or berries and cut into chucks; puree until smooth. Drain canned or frozen fruit before pureeing. If mixture is too thick to blend, add some of the drained liquid. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice or ⅛ teaspoon ascorbic acid to each 2 cups of light colored fruit to prevent darkening. Applesauce can be dried alone or added to any fresh fruit puree as an extender. It decreases tartness and makes the leather smoother and more pliable. Thin fruit purees such as raspberry dry better when combined with applesauce.

The evaporation of moisture during the drying process increases the natural sweetness of the fruit making additional sweeteners unnecessary. However, if you desire a sweeter product, add ¼ to ½ cup corn syrup, honey or sugar for each 2 cups of fruit. Corn syrup or honey is best for longer storage because sugar will crystallize after awhile. Saccharin and sucralose-based sweeteners can also be used, but aspartame sweeteners may lose sweetness during drying.

Leathers can be dried in a dehydrator or an oven if it can be set to 150°F or lower. Some dehydrators have specially designed plastic sheets or plastic trays for drying leathers. For oven drying, line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap being careful to smooth out wrinkles. Do not use waxed paper or regular aluminum foil as the leather will stick. However, Release® foil works well.

Fruit leathers can be poured into a single large sheet (13x15”) or into several smaller sizes. Two cups of puree will make one large fruit roll. Spread puree evenly, about ¼ inch thick, over drying tray. Avoid pouring puree too close to the edge of the cookie sheet—it will continue to spread. Larger fruit leathers take longer to dry. Depending upon the fruit used, its moisture content, leather size, and the type of dryer; it may take anywhere from 6 hours to several days to dry. Ideal drying temperature is 140°F. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching the center of the leather; no indentation should be evident and no “wet” spots should show. While warm, peel from the sheet and roll; allow to cool and re-wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Leathers can be kept for up to 1 month at room temperature and up to one year if frozen.

Spices, flavorings, and extras can be added for interest. Use spices and flavoring sparingly—try ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon for each 2 cups of puree. Remember the flavor will concentrate as it dries. Shredded coconut, chopped dates, other chopped and dried fruits, or chopped nuts can be sprinkled over the top of the puree before drying. For serving fun, spread one or more of the following on the leather after it is dried: melted chocolate, softened cream cheese, cheese spreads, jam, preserves, marmalade, marshmallow cream or peanut butter. The moisture from these spreads will be absorbed by the leather and should be added just prior to serving.