fruit leather extravaganza

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My mama and burke on our Day o’ Fruit Leather

Our casa has been a regular fruiteria this week.  Besides lemon bars (smitten kitchen is onto something, by the way- they turned out great!), my mom, Burke, and I devoted our entire Thursday afternoon to making mixed berry, kiwi strawberry, mango pineapple, strawberry blueberry, strawberry pineapple, and peach strawberry fruit leather.

We did a decent amount of research about making fruit leather beforehand (we used recipes from recipezaar, info from simply recipes, ideas from everything kitchens, the directions at ehow, as well as perusing all sorts of other websites for basic info).  And then we tried out just about everything we read.  So I thought I’d give y’all the report in case you were wanted to make some fruit leather as well.

Here are the details:

*We only used pureed fruit (we blended raw and frozen fruit with a little appesauce in a food processor).  Some of our reading mentioned adding sugar or lemon juice, but it turned out just fine using fruit alone.
*Each batch that we made used about 3 cups of pureed fruit.  That was enough for a cookie sheet of fruit leather or a couple levels of fruit leather in the dehdyrator.
*Once we pureed the 3 cups of fruit-plus-a few-tablespoons-of-applesauce, we spread the mixture thinly on a cookie sheet or dehydrator level lined with parchment paper.  It took between 6 and 8 hours in the oven at 170 degrees or in the dehydrator for the fruit leather to set.
*While I’m thinking about the difference between using the dehydrator versus using the oven, I’d say that if you have a dehydrator, it seems to make a more even texture, use less energy and take a little less time than the oven.  The oven works fine, but if you have access to a dehydrator, I’d start with it.
*We used parchment paper as the base for the fruit leather both on the cookie sheets and to keep the puree from seeping through the porous levels in the dehyrdrator.

*We also followed a tip we saw and made some little mini round ‘fruit snacks’ following the same directions, but using muffin tins and mini muffin tins.  These are perfect for Burke.

*We started with two big bags of frozen fruit (mixed berries and mixed fruit from Costco, $6.00), 8 kiwis ($2.00), and three pints of blueberries (they were on sale at our international market for $1.00 each) for a grand total of $11.00.  Each batch yielded about 14 pieces of store sized fruit leather.  Our fruit made 10 batches, making approximately 140 pieces of fruit leather.  All of that means that we spent about 10 cents per piece of fruit leather, which is great news compared to the store bought version (which are 50 cents each at our grocery store).  Obviously, this would be even more budget effective in the summer when berries and peaches are in season.  I can’t wait to try this in August!
*If I were going to make fruit leather in mass quantity again, I’d spend an afternoon blending fruit and store all of the purees in the fridge.  Then, each night before I went to bed, I’d put a batch in the dehydrator.  It’d take a couple weeks, but it’d only make a mess once and it’d never tie up the dehydrator except while we sleep.

Overall, I’d say the Fruit Leather Extravaganza was a smashing success- budget friendly, bringing a taste of summer fruity-ness to our house in January, delicious and good for us.  I’ll definitely be recruiting my mama for another day of blending when we make or way through the stack of strawberry, mixed berry, peachy goodness.  It might be August by then, actually.

On a totally unrelated note, don’t forget to spread the word about Our Drop in the Bucket this Thursday, January 21st, our fundraiser for relief efforts in Haiti.  Go check out the fabulous soldered goodness at Objects of Affection, the wool flowers and vintage goodies at Creative Dressmaking, and the darling hairclips and painted canvases at Eye Give a Hoot as well!  Lani, Suzannah and Tara are all running promotions on Thursday to raise funds for Haiti (Tara’s promotion is running for the next couple of weeks).

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