A few days ago I made “fruit leathers” with the sole intention of using up some mashed up squash I had in the fridge. To my delight the apple-squash leather was a “hit”. My daughter loved them!
But my little experiment actually gave me an idea. It may have solved a recent problem I have encountered.
My daughter loves strawberries. No, that’s not the problem, that’s awesome. In fact, tonight she told me they are her “favorite snack”. The problem is it is difficult to find decent organic strawberries in the middle of winter. I bought some frozen strawberries the other day, but it’s not the same.
(Note to self, buy a massive amount of strawberries when they are in season and dehydrate them).
Freeze dried strawberries taste good, but they are very messy. (The red powder gets everywhere).
My other problem is having a variety of healthy snacks to keep in my purse. I have been relying way too much on granola bars and raisins. I really need a change.
I think dehydrated strawberry-apple roll-ups might be the change I need!
The easiest way to get a nice looking fruit leather is to use a fruit that is high in pectin. In Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook the author explains why:
“Pectin is a carbohydrate present in pulpy fruits, more in underripe ones than in fully ripe fruits. A sufficient amount of pectin in applesauce is the reason the leather peels off the leather sheet in one piece. An insufficient amount of pectin is the reason plain tomato puree, with no thickening agent added, flakes when dried into leather. However, while flakes are not visually appealing, they are just as edible as tomato leather in one piece. Fruits naturally low in pectin include cherries, citrus fruits, melons, pomegranates, raspberries, and strawberries.”
So I decided to mix the strawberries in with homemade apple sauce, so it will peel nicely and keep it’s form.
The recipe is very easy. It only uses 2 ingredients.
Recipe – (Printable version)
1. Mix two cups of applesauce with 1.5 cups of whole frozen strawberries, (174g), in a blender or food processor. I actually weighed the frozen strawberries on a digital kitchen scale so I could get reproducible results. I ended up with almost 3 cups total fruit/berry purée. It was easier to blend the two together. Frozen strawberries don’t blend well by themselves.
2. Spread the purée on 2 Paraflexx trays, (or parchment paper). The thickness should be around 1/4 inch.
3. Dehydrate at 135 F for 5.5 hours. (Timing may vary depending on your dehydrator and thickness of your purse).
4. Once the purée is dry, spread a piece of parchment paper on top of the fruit leather. Cut and roll the fruit leather to your preferred size.
FYI – The rolls fit very nicely into the snack size ziploc bags.
In her book, Mary Bell says fruit leathers will keep for one year at room temperature.
It is a lot of fun experimenting with different snacks in the dehydrator. It is a little time consuming at first, but I have already found that I am getting more efficient. Eventually I plan on using all the trays in my dehydrator and making larger batches to save time. I am already visualizing homemade yogurt-strawberry-banana smoothie roll-ups for the next dehydrator project.
I highly recommend going “heavy” on the applesauce when you first make fruit leathers. In fact, a very easy recipe for apple leather is simply spreading out 1/4 inch of applesauce on a Paraflexx liner, (or parchment paper), and dehydrating it at 135 F for 8-20 hours. That’s it! It is one way to eat applesauce on the go!
The first time I tried to make the strawberry-apple leather I used a 1:1 ratio of applesauce to strawberries and I ended up with very brittle leather. (They were closer to strawberry chips). I also let them dehydrate overnight, for around 10 hours. (In hindsight, I really wish I would have spent the extra money and bought the Excalibur dehydrator with a timer on it). Hopefully by sharing my mistakes I can help others avoid them.