This homemade strawberry fruit leather is a fun snack to make for children, and gives you the control over how much sugar to add.
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I read a lot of recipes before making this for the first time. It seemed to come down to this: Puree your choice of fruits, taste, then add sugar if necessary. Spread the puree out on a tray, then bake at a low heat for anything between 4 and 8 hours – depending on water content of the fruit and thickness of the puree. Well, I can do that!
Except, I couldn’t. I tried making it with pureed fresh strawberries, no added sugar. On my first try, I ended up with fruit crisps. I did some reading around, and it appeared that I either had the oven up too high, cooked it for too long, or had the mixture spread too thin. Or perhaps all three? So I tried things differently, and still ended up with fruit chips. And I tried again. Fruit chips. Actually, they were very yummy. My son got pretty used to helping me “crack” my failed fruit leather into shards and then helping me eat them.
After yet more reading around, I decided to try cooking the strawberries first. Then I pureed them AND sieved them. Then I baked them. After a couple of hours the edges of the puree actually lifted away from the silicone mat! I cut the edges off (a pair of scissors were particularly effective for this task) and then put the middle section of puree back into the oven. Woohoo – I actually had a cooked puree that I could bend and roll!
I cut it into strips and wrapped it in parchment paper, like fruit roll-up snacks. The taste? A little on the tart side, but that could be what comes from cooking with winter strawberries without any sugar. Although the fruit leather was soft, my sieving hadn’t caught all the strawberry seeds, so it didn’t resemble a commercial product at all. It wasn’t sticky in the slightest though – quite dry to the touch.
F bravely tried it but I don’t think he liked the sharp taste too much.
Emboldened by my success, I wanted to prove that this method worked, despite it having far too many stages for my liking. So (finally) here is my recipe:
Homemade Strawberry Fruit Leather
(makes approx 9-10 strips depending on width)
1 box (16oz) fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks
1-2 tbs water
1-2 tbs sugar
- Stew the strawberries, water and sugar for 10 minutes until soft.
- Puree the strawberries in a blender.
- Push the puree through cheesecloth.
- Spread the puree out onto a silicone mat.
- Bake at 175F until the puree peels away from the silicone mat.
Note: There are a lot of variables here in terms of thickness of the puree and actual oven temperature, but after two hours I was able to cut off some edges, and after another thirty minutes I could cut off some more. Then after fifteen minutes I was able to pick up the remaining central piece, turn it over and bake it on the other side which was still a bit wet. After another fifteen minutes it was done! So three hours total, but lots of monitoring and checking.
- Cut the fruit leather into strips (as mentioned, scissors work great!), then roll them in strips of parchment paper and store in an airtight container.
I hope I haven’t dissuaded you from trying to make your own fruit leather by sharing my “failures” – since the results were so tasty I don’t count them as failures. It *is* quite a lot of work though, and it somehow seems a shame to reduce a lovely box of fresh strawberries to a few strips of fruit leather, however yummy. But it was fun to try this out so please try it too! Just don’t tell anyone what you’re making before you start: afterwards you can present the product as either fruit chips or fruit leather, depending on your results!
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