Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Sugar Fruit Leather

My kids have never been big on eating things that stick to their teeth, gummy bears excluded! However, one of the quick snacks for soccer season that we found at our local grocery is called Fruit Poles. They are exactly what they sound like. Fruit dried and squished into a pole shape. They aren't as sticky as a fruit roll-up, and most certainly NOT loaded with sugar. In fact, there's no sugar whatsoever in them. Just squashed up strawberries, apples, and pears. You can get a few other flavors, but that one seems to win hands down. The only problem is the kids have been known to snag a few on non-soccer days and those little fruit poles are expensive!

After seeing a few recipes for homemade fruit leather I decided to give it a try. My first batch I cooked while we slept. The lady who shared the recipe swore it took 10 hours on the lowest setting on her oven. I'm guessing her oven's low setting is much lower then mine, cause the first batch was burnt to a crisp! I was highly annoyed because it had been a beautiful batch of applesauce when I started. So I tried again with some pears that we'd picked up from our veggie shed, and that batch I cooked during the day. Someone else said it only takes about 2 hours. Well, my pears took longer then two hours, but not anything near 10 hours. It was super yummy and we all enjoyed it and there was nothing left of my single batch in less then 36 hours!

First you need two willing helpers, preferably those with lunch still on their faces! Have them peel all your apples. I didn't measure my apples, I simply used up the last of what we had on hand before they spoiled. It also happened to fill my pan up very nicely.

Cut the peeled and sliced apples (my machine peels and slices) in half, and drop them in a large pot with about 4-6 Tablespoons of water. My pot is only kinda large, but it works so don't laugh too much at it! This big pot of apples will only make one large cookie sheet and one small sheet full of fruit leather..

Put the lid on, turn the pan on high and bring it to a boil. I leave mine boiling with the lid on until the apples are tender, but you don't have to leave it on high. When I'm done my apples are tender enough I can mash them with a fork quite easily.

See all the lovely condensation? That's why your apples won't need much water to start with. You want your applesauce nice and thick, not thin. Trust me this will save you time in the end. This is also why I boil my apples with the lid on. All that moisture keeps circling in the pot and keeps things from sticking and burning.

When your apples are all mushy puree them in a blender or food processor or mush them by hand. I ran mine through the blender. That batch of applesauce is a wee bit too thin as I'd added a pinch too much water, but not to worry the water will be cooked out eventually!

Next bring the mixture back to a boil and pop the lid on so no one gets burned. I used a spoon to prop it open so that we had no condensation. It can spit quite heavily and I didn't want anyone walking into the kitchen getting burned. This isn't always necessary with the apple fruit leather (that I've noticed thus far in making several batches of it), but it's a huge helper if your applesauce is too thin OR in using other fruits. Cook it away until it's thicker, for pears it will turn a darker color as well. For my apples I cooked it until it was a thicker constancy apple sauce.

Next lay baking or parchment paper on your trays and spread the apple/fruit mixture on the trays. Remember your little tray will need less then your bigger tray! Then place them in the oven with your oven set to the lowest setting possible (my low is 90 C) and leave them for a few hours. I tend to check mine about every hour or so. Then sometimes I forget and go running through the house screaming, "I FORGOT!!!" and the guys roll their eyes and say, "What did she say?" which is usually followed with some absurd tale which resembles nothing like, "I FORGOT!!!"

Then you pull it out of the oven and it will pull right off the parchment paper. I cut ours into strips and roll them up and store it in tupperware containers. Truth be told the edges of the batch in the picture are a bit over done. They get a bit crispy and we aren't as fond of it. However, once it sat in the box it picked up some moisture from the middle bits and was perfectly fine. It's a great way to use up all those fruits that need eating that are sitting in your fruit bowl. We use them for this and for Apple Crumble, which we've renamed "Empty The Fruit Bowl Crumble".. I'll have to post the recipe for that one another day..

Notes: If you waned to add sweetener to this you could, but we don't. We find fruit in any form sweet enough just as it is. You could also add cinnamon, nutmeg (blech), all spice, mixed spices, Chinese 5-spice powder, etc. to it. Again, we just cook it up plain and enjoy it as it is! One batch is probably not enough. Ours seems to vanish rather quickly, and the kids swear it tastes just like the ones we buy at the shop..


Tracey said...

That looks really yummy. We love to eat sticky stuff.

The Unsell Family said...

Yummy! We made homemade fruit leather during our Lewis and Clark study in February! ;-)

The Usurped Princess said...

I look forward to trying this! Do you think you could use store bought natural applesauce (the kind without added sugar) instead of making it yourself?

Kendra said...

I'm sure you could! I had apples that needed using up so I opted to make my own, but I don't see why you couldn't use your own!

Anonymous said...

Your boys are darling Kendra!

And I am so impressed with your blog and your energy level.

I'm so sorry you are hurting though. I hated to read about your terrible migraines you have been suffering with for so long.

And I just read your post about your knee problems too. I hate that you are struggling with that also. I know how much excercise helps us in life. Praying the Lord heals you sweet friend.

On another note blog is amazing! I will be coming back to visit for sure. Thanks for blogging.