Fresh fruit season is upon us here in the Midwest. The farmers
markets and grocery store shelves are stacked high with delicious
strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Sweet stone fruits such
as peaches, plums and apricots beckon. How can we resist?
Often during the summer months, I end up buying more fruit than
my family is able to consume. Since no one wants to see precious
summer fruit go rotten, here is a fun and easy remedy: Turn excess
fruit into dried fruit leather. Dehydrated fruit is an excellent
snack for kids on the go.
This preserving method is also a great way to use bruised,
less-then-perfect pieces of fruit that don't make it into your
fruit salad. Plus, kids will be fascinated by the transformation
from fresh fruit to sticky snack.
Fruit leather can be made from a variety of fresh fruits, but
strawberries are especially easy to work with for first-timers.
This recipe can easily be modified for other fruit.
Although fruit leather is a tasty snack, the pediatric dentists
out there would certainly want me to mention that your child should
brush his teeth after consuming this sticky, sweet treat.
Turn your extra fruit into a healthy on-the-go
Purée strawberries and sugar in a blender until totally smooth.
Add a small amount of sugar to begin with and taste as you go. Many
ripe fruits won't require much additional sugar at all. Strain the
puree through a sieve into a saucepan. Use the back of a spatula to
push as much liquid as possible through the sieve. Discard the
remaining seeds and solids.
Bring the purée to a boil in a saucepan, then simmer over a low
heat for at least one hour. Stir the puree regularly. As you
approach the end of the cooking time, carefully monitor the purée
to ensure that it doesn't burn or stick. The mixture should be
reduced to about 1 cup.
While the mixture is reducing, line a large baking sheet with a
Silpat baking mat (a reusable, non-stick liner). Pour the hot purée
onto the liner and spread thinly and evenly into a rectangular
shape using the back of the spatula. A uniform thickness will
ensure that the fruit leather dries thoroughly.
Dry the fruit purée in a 200-degree oven for two or three hours
until the fruit leather is no longer sticky to the touch. Cool on
liner on a rack until completely dry (at least three hours).
Depending on how much liquid is in the fruit, this process could
take up to 24 hours.
When the fruit leather is completely dry, place a sheet of
parchment paper on top and peel leather off the liner. Roll the
fruit leather up in parchment. Strawberry fruit leather will keep
in a sealed container at room temperature for about a month. Cut
the fruit leather into strips or use cookie cutters to create fun
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.
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