5 Ingredients: Fruit Leather
We're celebrating food preserving this week on Healthy Eats. Today: Make homemade fruit leather! Check the labels on many of those packaged fruit leathers and you’ll find upwards of 15 ingredients including corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fats) preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. Our homemade version has only three ingredients (okay, four if you count water), and fresh, satisfying flavor.
We chose strawberries because the season is over so quickly. Fruit leather will stay fresh in an air-tight container for up to 4 weeks, so you can hold on to that strawberry goodness a little bit longer. We use organic or local strawberries, because they’re on the Environmental Working Group’s “ Dirty Dozen” list of produce to buy organic. Instead of strawberries, you can follow the same method to make leather using peaches, apricots, mango, figs, cherries, or another type of berry.
Sugar brings out the sweetness of the fruit and gives the leather that signature chew. This recipe uses a minimal amount -- 2 tablespoons per batch.
Honey adds a little more natural sweetness, a hint of flavor, and a silky texture. If you have access to local honey, take advantage of the unique flavor found where you live. Read more about the wonders of honey.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet, set aside.
Place strawberries and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes until berries being to soften. Puree berries using an immersion blender or food processor. Return puree to saucepan, stir in sugar and honey. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Pour the hot fruit mixture on to prepared pan and spread out into an even layer. Place in the oven to dry for 3 hours. Turn off the oven and allow to sit overnight to dry completely. Cut into 1-inch strips with a pizza cutter and peel away from paper or Silpat sheet. Roll up strips and store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »