Fruit leather is a great option for long term food preservation. This fruit leather recipe is simple, and can use the apples you have available, and that are in season. This is an exceptional way to use up early season soft apples, like Transparent or Macintosh, or use the culls from the later season harvests.
Fruit leather or fruit roll ups are super easy and straight forward to make. You just need apples. You can add other fruit or even vegetables, and sweetener, but the essence of fruit leather is apples.
Fruit leather is a great way to use up apples that are small and misshapen, that wouldn’t work well for apple chips, apple pie, or long term food storage. You can also use dropped and bruised apples, before they start going bad.
The first step in making fruit leather is to make apple sauce. If you already make apple sauce or have an apple sauce mill you are good to go to start making fruit leather with your dehydrator.
The goal in making fruit leather is to preserve as much of the harvest as possible in a consumable form. Fruit leather is a great substitute for commercial fruit roll ups, for lunch-on-the-go. Homemade fruit roll ups will contain less sugar and more fiber than commercial products.
I grew up with homemade fruit leather from our own apple trees. It was one of the dried fruit preserves that did not last through the winter, as it was a favorite. It was stored in gallon bags in the cold storage, each strip of carefully cut fruit leather individually wrapped in the plastic wrap it was dried on. This fruit leather recipe takes me back to my childhood, chopping and saucing apples and begging to turn the crank on the applesauce mill, knowing I’d get a bowl of warm applesauce as a delicious snack later.
We canned apple sauce for winter enjoyment, on potato pancakes. And while we were canning the apple sauce, we also made fruit leather. By adding the apple sauce to lined dehydrator trays, at the same time as we canned the apple sauce we saved time and only had one clean up to do.
This fruit leather recipe can be made either in a dehydrator, or can be dried at 140 degrees F in a convection oven. A dehydrator will be more energy efficient than an oven. If you chose to use an oven maximize how many baking sheets you can fit and rotate them to ensure even drying. Use the convection setting on your electric oven to assist drying, and rotate trays and flip the fruit leather, for even drying.Print
An easy apple fruit leather that anyone can make, without specialized tools.
- Per tray, multiply by how many trays you have to fill:
- 6–10 medium apples
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- tray liner (parchment paper, or heat safe saran wrap)
- baking or dehydrator trays
If you have an applesauce mill that separates puree and seeds/skins automatically, you can skip peeling and coring the apples.
- peel and core the apples.
- Chop the apples into cubes.
- Add apple pieces, lemon juice, and water to a large sauce pan. Simmer on medium heat until the apples are thoroughly soft, stir frequently.
- Mash with a potato masher, or run through a food mill, or applesauce mill.
- When the puree is smooth, add sugar to taste. If you use sweet apples the sugar may not be needed. Average sugar addition is a quarter cup per quart of apple sauce.
- Prepare your baking sheets, or dehydrator trays with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Pour 2-4 cups of applesauce per tray, depending on the size of your dehydrator trays. The goal is 1/4 inch thick on the edge, tapering to 1/8 inch thick in the center for even drying.
- Activate your oven or dehydrator and place trays inside.
- Drying time varies between 6-8 hours in the oven, and up to 6 hours in the dehydrator. Rotate trays and flip the fruit leather about half way through the drying time. Dehydrator time can be accelerated if you remove the plastic wrap or parchment paper backing once the fruit leather is dried enough to hold it’s form.
- When the fruit leather is fully dried it will be shiny, and a bit tacky but not damp. Let it cool before rolling and slicing into strips with kitchen shears.
- Individually wrap the fruit leather rolls in plastic wrap, and store in a gallon zipper bag in a cool place, like a cold storage room. Each tray should make about ten 1 inch wide and 1 inch thick fruit roll ups.
- If you are worried about shelf life, store the fruit leather in the freezer or fridge. Fruit leather should last 12 months, about the same as dehydrated apple chips. If your family likes it as much as mine, it won’t last long enough to worry about shelf life.
If you used tart apples and want to avoid sugar, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per quart of apple sauce. It will sweeten the flavor, and add more body.
Keywords: fruit roll ups, fruit leather
More fruit leather flavors
While this fruit leather recipe is just the basic, there are a wide range of variations that you can create. If you make juice, fruit based juicer pulp can be included with the apple sauce to add more flavor and color to the finished fruit roll up. Pears can be added to apples on a 50/50 basis for pear fruit leather. You can also use berries with the apples but use at least 50% apple sauce in your recipe. Fruit leather made with just berries tends to be more brittle, without the pectin that is inherent in the apple sauce.
You can also add leafy vegetables to fruit leather for increased vitamins. When adding leafy vegetables, use an immersion blender or food mill to make sure the greens are fully blended into the apple base, and use at least 50% apple sauce. Or try sweet potato fruit leather or pumpkin fruit leather.
If you like spice, check out this combination recipe for hot pepper jelly which re-purposes the pulp into spicy fruit leather. If you have an abundance of crab apples, this crab apple fruit leather is a great option to use that autumn abundance.
What fruit leather combinations have you tried? Leave a comment.