Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.Drew Carey
Anyone who has kids, or who is at least acquainted with one, knows how children can be picky eaters.
Luckily for me, I don’t have a problem getting my kids to eat their fruit.
But up to a point. They are a bit fussy.
They like fruit that is unblemished and perfectly ripe.
Once a piece of fruit looks the slightest bit dishevelled, a sports a bruise or blemish, or gets the slightest bit squishy, they turn up their noses and cruelly reject it.
It’s not long before the slightly imperfect fruit ends up decomposing quietly in the fruit bowl before I end up feeding it to the worm farm.
Frankly, I can’t afford to feed worms what was once perfectly fine fruit.
Fortunately, I now have a way to easily preserve that strange, but otherwise all good fruit. Dehydrating!
I was on the fence for a while about getting a dehydrator, and have finally purchased one. And the kitchen has been overrun with delicious experiments and a few disasters since.
The less said about my attempt to dehydrate edamame, the better.
Just in the last month, the amount of fruit waste is diminished to the point where I am buying fruit to dehydrate! The end of the summer season means there are great bargains to be had on stonefruit in particular.
If you don’t have a dehydrator…
You can make dried fruit and fruit leather in your oven. I have an electric oven with a fan-forced function that will operate as low as 50 degrees Celsiusus.
Which is great, BUT it will need to be operating for 8-12 hours to dehydrate the fruit leather! It is not economical for me to use my oven for that amount of time. If you do choose to do so, be sure to fill your oven to capacity!
And if you are extra handy, you could make your own solar dehydrator, like Paul West from River Cottage Australia did
Making your Own Dried Fruit
Making your own dried fruit couldn’t be easier! I was surprised when I saw the additives like sulphates, vegetable oils and added sugar that goes into commercial dried fruit.
Doing it yourself ensures you can avoid all that.
Prepare your fruit by slicing into pieces no thicker than 1cm. I squeeze lemon or lime juice over my fruit, to prevent the fruit from oxidising too quickly.
Spread them evenly your dehydrating tray. Ensure that none of the pieces touches each other. I dehydrate my fruit at 60 degrees
The first time you attempt dehydrated dried fruit, hang around! You will want to keep an eye on it and different fruit takes different amounts of time to dry.
And, I’m getting a little sneaky with my experiments.
Sure, my kids love fruit. Veggies? Not so much. But beetroot, plum and vanilla fruit leather? The kids gobble it down.
Making Your Own Fruit Leather
While researching fruit leather recipes, I was astonished to discover how many of the recipes use added sugar and the puree is cooked, much like a jam.
My recipes are much simpler than that.
Dehydrating concentrates the sugars in the fruit, and I find it is sweet enough without. Feel free to experiment if you have a sweeter tooth!
It is also quite a challenge to give you a fair recipe for these leathers, without knowing your dehydrator capacity. There is room for experimentation, no two fruit leathers ever need be the same, depending on what you have available, or what is in season.
My dehydrator did not come with fruit leather mats. So I made my own using baking paper and the tray as a template. I have seen some recipes recommend oiling your fruit leather sheets, however, I did not. Once the leathers were sufficiently dehydrated, they peeled easily off the baking paper sheet.
So the following recipe,
- The sweeter and juicier the fruit, the sweeter and stickier the fruit leather.
- Flavours will intensify, so err on the side of caution with your spices.
- Spread the fruit puree smoothly and evenly so it dehydrates consistently.
- If you have an excess of puree, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days , or even freeze it until you have capacity in your dehydrator.
- One thing to remember when mixing purees is to make sure the vegetable you are using is cooked.
- Lower dehydrating temperatures mean a longer drying time.
Sweet Potato, Apple and Cinnamon Fruit Leather
Make sure your sweet potato is well cooked and puree until smooth.
Peel and core your apples, removing any blemishes or squishy bits. Puree your apples raw with a little bit of lemon juice to stop them oxidising.
You want to roughly have one quarter potato puree with three quarters apple puree. For each cup of sweet potato and apple puree, add 1/4
Sweet potato also works well with apricots, nectarines, peaches and pears.
By happy coincidence, the volume of my Vitamix (approx 400ml) matches the volume of my dehydrator tray. Hooray!
Spread your fruit puree evenly on your prepared baking paper at 1cm high and dehydrate on 70 degrees
The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface. You can peel off the backing paper and cut into strips, or store with the paper still attached.
Beetroot, Plum and Vanilla Fruit Leather
I had some beetroots and plums looking both a little worse for wear and realised that together, they could make magic!
Cook and puree your beetroot and puree. Add fresh, pureed plums (skins on) roughly one-quarter beetroot to three-quarters plum puree. add a few drops of natural vanilla extract.
Follow preparation instructions as above and enjoy!
Pineapple, Kombucha Scoby and Raspberry Confetti Fruit Leather
Dried pineapple was the hands-down favourite in our house, but it is so sweet! The addition of Kombucha scoby adds a little tartness to the resulting fruit leather. The raspberries look pretty and add a nice flavour complement to the pineapple.
This thin, sticky leather took the longest to dehydrate.
- 400ml raw fresh pinapple, peeled and pureed
- 20g of fresh Kombucha scoby, cut into small peices
- Small handful of fresh, or frozen rasperries.
Puree your kombucha scoby with your pineapple until well blended with no chunks. Spread your fruit puree evenly on your prepared baking paper at 1cm high and scatter the
Follow preparation instructions and enjoy!
The enemy of dried fruit and fruit leather is moisture, so store in an airtight container. These recipes contain no preservative, so if you spot mould, discard immeiately and do not eat! Excess dried fruit and fruit leather can be frozen.
Mind you, these dried fruit and fruit leather snacks go fast in my house! They are healthy, tasty and make use of a glut
Have you made your own dried fruit or fruit leather before? What are your favourite fruit combinations? I love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.