Last month I posted about making fruit leather with frozen peaches put up from last year. You can make fruit leather with just about any frozen, canned, or fresh fruit you have on hand, but in my opinion, the very best fruit leather is made with freshly picked strawberries. The strawberries consistently provide me with a thin chewy leather, perfectly sweet, slightly tart, and flecked with tiny seeds for added texture. My family has already been through three batches of this leather (I gave one to my niece who eats them after school each day), and we are in need of another. We complain each time that the oven does not hold enough trays (only three) at a time, which I am sure calls for a move to a new house with a larger kitchen and multiple ovens. Unfortunately, my husband does not take his fruit leather that seriously. Oh well, one can dream.
To make one tray of leather, you will need a cookie sheet with sides. Mine are approximately 13 x 17 inches. You can use smaller sizes; you will just have to use less strawberries or dry a little longer. You begin by lining your pan with plastic wrap, making sure to smooth it out as much as possible and leave an overhang on each side. Then you process your strawberries with a little sugar and Fruit Fresh or lemon juice. You can go with no sugar at all depending on the sweetness of your berries. The mixture gets poured onto the sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Then it is dried in the oven at 140 degrees or using the drying cycle (if you have one) for approximately 12 hours. Sometimes mine takes a little longer, sometimes less. I usually dry it overnight, and it is ready the next morning.
Once dry, you can cut it into strips of your choice. I opt for a fruit roll-up size. Roll it in wax paper, and tie it with twine. The rolls store well in a tightly sealed container for weeks (some people say even months, but mine never last that long).
Strawberry Fruit Leather- makes 1 sheet
When I make this leather, I generally make as much as my oven will hold at a time. I simply make one batch, pour it onto a sheet pan, and then repeat. You can also use a dehydrator if you have one. Your oven must be able to hold a consistent temperature around 140 degrees or have a drying feature. You can also add as little or as much sugar as you desire, but remember that the flavors and sugars will concentrate and become sweeter during drying. I generally use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to a scant 1/4 cup per tray.
2 cups washed and hulled strawberries (you can also use frozen)
1/8 tsp Fruit Fresh or lemon juice
1/4 cup (or less) granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries
Place your oven on 140 degrees or set it on the drying cycle. Line a 13 x 15 or 13 x 17 inch cookie sheet (with sides) with plastic wrap making sure to leave an overhang. Smooth the plastic wrap out as much as possible and set aside.
In the meantime, process the berries, Fruit Fresh, and sugar in a food processor until completely smooth. Pour the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet and spread it out to an even layer. Place the pan in the oven and dry anywhere from 8-18 hours. Mine usually takes about 12 hours, but I begin checking after 8. When ready, it will feel only slightly tacky and there will be no indentation present when you gently press on it in the center of the pan.
Remove the leather from the oven and allow it to cool 5 minutes. Pull the leather away from the plastic wrap, cut it in strips, and wrap in in waxed paper for storage.