I hope I'm not alone in this. I have very high standards for what I consider consumable produce. When I'm at the grocery store, I'm the weirdo examining every detail of each piece of fruit I place in my basket. No bruising, no discoloration, and certainly no insect holes (I've been traumatized by not adhering to that last one). On the way home I make a detailed plan to wash, dry and cut everything to make it more accessible and easier to eat, but by the time I strap a toddler to my chest and haul a diaper bag and 80 pounds of groceries up four flights of stairs, I'm lucky if everything makes it into the fridge. Tomorrow. I'll wash and chop and make it all look appetizing, tomorrow.
Well, tomorrow comes and goes and it's a week later and that sad clamshell of strawberries has been pushed into the depths of the fridge behind the container of hummus and now that we have licked that bowl clean, the strawberries gasp for air, pleading to be acceptable for consumption. Sadly, they just aren't pretty enough anymore. They're dark and starting to shrivel. Normally, they would be tossed under the sink with the rest of the garbage, but I feel bad for them. After all, our relationship had a great start.
As a kid, I remember having a systematic way of eating a fruit roll up. I never unrolled it completely. I only exposed what I was about to eat and kept the rest tightly wrapped. Nibble after nibble, I'd make my way down it's entire foot length, pressing each piece against the top of my mouth until it dissolved. It was probably the most fun snack we ever had in our lunches. Unless, for some unknown reason, we had pop rocks that day.
You may have already guessed that I might have been a fat kid. It's true. Pop rocks and celery sticks coated in seasoned salt don't exactly scream health food. We had a lot of fun, but I've had to work pretty hard to get keep my 'pop rocks fat' off. In an effort to have a little fun, my son gets to have an occasional treat here and there, but I try to give him what I hope to be a balanced diet. The original fruit roll up has quite a bit of sugar in it, but homemade fruit leather makes a great low sugar snack and gives a trash can pardon to those less than perfect strawberries.
I'm gonna be straight with you. This stuff takes a long time to make. It's basically an all day affair. Granted, much of that time is a long stint in a pot, a long stint in the oven and a long time cooling and drying so there isn't a ton of manual labor, but it's certainly not quick. If you're able to, I'd say double the batches and make a ton of it so that you'll feel like you'll get more fruit (leather) for your labor.
makes 2 sheet pans
- 2 cups strawberries, stemmed and halved
- 2 cups raspberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups pitted and chopped apriums (a plum/apricot hybrid, but feel free to use either of those, or peaches would be excellent, too)
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Puree each mixture separately in a blender until very smooth. If you don't want seeds, strain both mixtures through a fine mesh sieve and place each in it's own pot over medium low heat and cook until thick, about one hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and line two baking sheets with non-stick liners. Spread the mixtures thinly over the liners and smooth the top with an offset spatula, if one is available.
- Dry the mixture in the oven until slightly tacky but not sticking to your finger, about 3 hours. Dry on the liner on a drying rack until completely dry, at least three hours and up to overnight.
- Place a sheet of parchment on top of the fruit leather, covering it entirely and flip it over. Carefully remove the non-stick liner and cut into strips, roll up, and secure with a small piece of tape. Store in an airtight container for up to one month.