Mom can we get those *fill in the blank*
But I neeeeeeed them *used with the most pathetic whiny voice imaginable*
Sorry, but they are expensive and not very healthy.
*This will be followed by 1 of three things 1) child stops asking but pouts and gives you the evil eye for the next 20 minutes. 2) more argument proceeds where the child does their best to wear you down and convince you that they will die if they don't have the item in question. 3) Full blown temper tantrum.*
Anyways, several months ago I had some homemade fruit leather that I thought was fantastic. I wondered if my children would actually eat it even though they dont' like Fruit Roll-Ups so I found a recipe online that I wanted to try.
Homemade Fruit Leather
You Will Need:
2 cups fruit
1 tablespoon lemon Juice
¼ cup sugar (optional, depending on the sweetness of your fruit)
Preheat the oven to 150 -170 degrees F. If your oven doesn't go this low, simply set it to the lowest temperature and prop the door open. Puree the strawberry pulp and lemon juice in a food processor. If you choose another fruit you can chop it and stew it with the lemon juice until it softens before pureeing it. Stewing the fruit helps it retain its color. If it is a fruit with seeds, a food mill will remove the seeds more easily than a food processor and strainer. Add a small amount of water to the mixture if necessary so that it has a pourable consistency. Cover a baking sheet with plastic, parchment paper, or a silicon baking pad. The temperature of the oven is low enough not to affect the plastic. (Note: wax paper will not work for this recipe, it will stick.) Spray or brush with vegetable oil, then spread the fruit puree onto the sheet tray with an offset spatula or knife to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Place it in the oven for 6-8 hours. Make sure there is air circulating to prevent scorching. Alternatively place it in the sun for 6-8 hours. Invert the fruit leather onto another baking sheet covered in plastic or silicon baking pad, and oil, and remove the first lining. Place in the oven or sun for another 6-8 hours. If it becomes too brittle at any point, simply brush on water with a pastry brush to rehydrate it. Cool the sheet tray and cut the fruit leather into desired sizes. Dust with corn starch to prevent sticking, cover in plastic and store in a cool place in a sealed container.
I grabbed a bag of frozen strawberry's and set them on the counter to defrost. When they were fully defrosted they were already pretty soupy looking so I decided they didn't need to be stewed to be softened. I put them in my food processor and it was pure liquid in about 30 seconds. I opted out on the sugar for this first batch because the original poster said that as the fruit dries it becomes sweeter.
About every hour I would check on it and it ended up taking 7 hours for the entire batch to dry out. The center was being pretty stubborn.
The Verdict: In no way did it resemble leather. It was pretty brittle. I broke off a couple small pieces and handed them to the kids. They each took a bite, made a face and declared that they didn't like it. In my daughters words "I don yike it." I took a bite and had to agree with the kids. It was pretty bitter. I should have put sugar in.
I left that pan out for a few hours not wanting to throw it away, but not wanting to keep it because we probably wouldn't eat it. That evening I decided to just toss it and when I went to get it I saw that 3/4ths of it was missing. The kids had been sneaking pieces all afternoon and apparently had decided they loved it. They ended up eating all of it.
About a week later I decided to try again but I wanted to experiment a little bit. I added sugar, then I threw in a handful of fresh spinach. I put the spinach right in the food processor with the strawberries and they blended together great.
The Verdict with Spinach: Except for the burnt pieces it tasted great. You couldn't taste the spinach at all and the kids ate it up very quickly.
I bet your wondering why it had burnt edges. Let me tell you. I put the pan into the oven and turned it on. My plan was to pull the pan out of the oven right before I went to bed, but when do things ever go according to plan? Things got a bit hectic that evening so I plum forgot all about that fruit leather sitting in the oven.
The next morning I walked by the oven and was surprised to feel a lot of warm air next to it. At that point I remembered about the fruit leather and started to freak out. I began yelling "OH NO OH NO OH NO OH NO" as I yanked open the door. I was expecting a smoking black crisp, but instead I saw this. That fruit leather had sat in the oven for, get ready for this, 19 hours.