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How to Make Homemade Fruit Rollups

Making homemade fruit leather is very simple, and results in a delicious snack! Click to enlarge.

Making homemade fruit leather is very simple, and results in a delicious snack! Click to enlarge.

Reasons to Make Homemade Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is a wonderful, easy way to preserve fruit, and is a healthy food for a child’s lunch box or after-school snack. The store bought version of fruit leather goes by the brand names “Fruit By the Foot” or “Fruit Roll-Ups.” The commercial versions of fruit leather are not as healthy as the homemade versions, as they contain artificial dyes, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup.

Generally, all that is required for making fruit leather is a blender, fruit, and a baking sheet. Lemon juice (or lime juice) is recommended, because it is an anti-oxidant that helps to maintain the color of the fruit leather and will give a nice, bright flavor to the homemade version. Some fruits also require a little added sugar. If sugar is called for in a recipe, try to use honey instead, as sugar can give a granular texture to the finished fruit rollup. If granular sugar is used, then use a brand with ultra-fine crystals.

Commercial Fruit Leather vs. Homemade Fruit Leather

Commercial fruit leather is not nearly as healthy as the homemade counterpart. All commercial fruit roll-ups are made from pear concentrate, even if the stated “flavor” on the package is strawberry. Artificial flavors and colors are added to change the characteristics of the commercial variety. In fact, the commercial Fruit RollUp “treat” is considered a pectin-based fruit flavored candy. This is much, much different than the wholesome goodness of homemade fruit leather. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the commercial fruit rollup vs. a homemade recipe:

Commercial Fruit RollUp Ingredients vs. Homemade Fruit Leather

Homemade Strawberry Fruit LeatherStrawberry Fruit RollUp (General Mills)

Strawberries

Pears From Concentrate

Lemon Juice

Corn Syrup

Sugar (or Honey)

Dried Corn Syrup

 

Sugar

 

Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil

 

Citric Acid

 

Sodium Citrate

 

Acetylated Monoglycerides

 

Fruit Pectin

 

Dextrose

 

Malic Acid

 

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

 

Natural Flavors

 

Red #40

 

Yellow #5

 

Yellow #6

Fruit Leather with Real Fruit

Homemade fruit leather uses fresh fruit, unlike the commercial knock-offs (pictured: Orange Tendersweet watermelon).

Homemade fruit leather uses fresh fruit, unlike the commercial knock-offs (pictured: Orange Tendersweet watermelon).

Watermelon Fruit Leather Recipe

I recently made a batch of fruit leather from watermelons. One medium sized watermelon yielded one sheet of fruit leather. Three simple ingredients are required for making watermelon fruit leather:

  1. Watermelon puree
  2. ¼ cup lemon juice
  3. ¼ cup sugar (or honey)

The lemon juice can be substituted with lime juice, and the granulated sugar can be substituted with honey for a smoother fruit leather texture.

Step 1: Puree Fruit

fruit-leather-recipes-how-to-make-homemade-fruit-rollups

Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step One

Cut up a watermelon and discard the seeds and rind. Place the chopped watermelon into a blender and blend until the watermelon is a smooth puree. The watermelon used in these pictures is an Orange Tendersweet watermelon (an heirloom variety), and this watermelon has an orange flesh. This will create orange fruit leather: for a red watermelon fruit leather, use a traditional watermelon variety. Seedless varieties are easier to cut and blend.

Note that you will need a medium sized watermelon to make enough puree for 1 sheet of fruit leather. Due to the high water content of watermelon, only 1 cup of strained puree will be obtained from a medium-to-large sized watermelon.

Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Two

Watermelon has a very high water content, so drain off some of the extra watermelon juice by passing the watermelon puree through a sieve or filter. To make my fruit leather, I used thick paper towels as a liner to my colander: this was effective and separated the thicker puree from the watermelon juice. The watermelon juice can be reserved to turn into watermelon syrup, if desired.

Add the lemon juice and sugar (or honey) to the puree and mix thoroughly.

Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Three

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Spray cooking spray into a baking sheet or pan: this will prevent the fruit leather from sticking to the bottom of the pan as it dries out. Lining the baking tray with plastic wrap will make pulling the fruit leather out of the tray much easier, and is recommended. Pour the watermelon puree into the pan, to a depth of about 1/8”. If you like thicker fruit leather, increase the depth to ¼”: my family prefers the thinner, fruit rollup style of fruit leather, so I always try to keep my layer as thin as possible. Place the pan into the oven and leave it undisturbed for 6 hours. If you have a convection oven, the drying time will be much shorter, and may be finished by the end of four hours.

Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Four

After 4-6 hours (depending on the type of oven), check the fruit leather by touching it gently with one finger in the center of the pan – fruit leather dries from the outside edges in, so be sure to test the center of the sheet. When the fruit leather is no longer sticky in any way, it is done. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely. Once cool, peel the fruit leather away from the pan. Cut the fruit leather into strips and serve!

Other Fruit Leather Recipes

Fruit leather can be made from nearly any fruit. Follow the same general recipe: ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup sweetener (if desired) to enough pureed fruit to cover a baking pan to a depth of 1/8”. Some specific recipes are listed below:

Strawberry Fruit Leather

Remove the green tops from the strawberries. Place the strawberries in a saucepot and simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft (use ½ cup of water for every 4 cups of berries). Puree the fruit, add lemon juice and honey in equal amounts, and pour the fruit onto a baking sheet to dry. Heat at 170 degrees for 6-8 hours.

Peach Fruit Leather

Remove the pits and skins from peaches. Puree the peaches, add any desired seasonings (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.), and the lemon juice and sweetener (if desired). Pour the puree into a baking pan and bake for 6-8 hours.

Note: some people prefer to use raw fruit for the puree, and others prefer to simmer the fruit in a small amount of water prior to making a puree. Simmering the fruit prior to blitzing it in the blender does two things: it concentrates the flavor of the fruit, and it also kills off any potential bacteria on the fruit surface.

Fruit Leather Storage

Storing fruit leather in convenient "to-go" packages makes packing lunches easy and prevents the fruit leather strips from sticking to each other.

Storing fruit leather in convenient "to-go" packages makes packing lunches easy and prevents the fruit leather strips from sticking to each other.

Storing Fruit Leather

How long will fruit leather last? Properly stored, fruit leather will last about 1 month in a cool, dark pantry. To store fruit leather for longer periods of time, roll sheets of fruit leather in wax paper and place them in the freezer. As our fruit leather disappears rather quickly into lunch boxes, I cut our fruit leather into strips and seal it using Glad Press and Seal plastic wrap. It is usually gone within a week!

The first time I wrapped our fruit leather, I used aluminum foil (you can see the foil backing in the picture to the right). Unfortunately, the fruit leather will become tacky during storage and will stick to the aluminum foil: it is better to use wax paper or plastic wrap to store fruit leather.

Comments

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 08, 2012:

Good luck on the new career path! We're in the process of getting set up with a dietitian for my son (long story) through the GI department of our children's hospital. We have to be careful about what he eats as he is on a restricted diet, but fruit leather is OK (as long as we don't acidify it).

Jilltravel from Indiana on February 08, 2012:

Hi Leah, thanks so much for sharing these tips with me!!! I've gone back to school to become a registered dietitian. I LOVE finding unique ideas like these for my family and future clients! I look forward to learning more from you in the future! :)

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 08, 2012:

Jill, fruit leather is really easy to make (and easy to travel with, too)! Great for hikes and day trips - I like having the homemade version because it doesn't have any artificial dyes or ingredients. You can even leave out the added sugar for many of the fruits!

Jilltravel from Indiana on February 08, 2012:

Thanks so much for sharing this incredible idea with us! I've never seen anything like this before. I'm new to HubPages and am truly enjoying learning from other on here. My husband and I hope to have kids someday. This will become a staple in our house! THANKS! :)

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 05, 2012:

Like tomatoes - yuck! Haha - good try, though. I hadn't thought about rehydrating dried fruit in applesauce to make fruit leather - I'll have to try that this summer. I canned strawberries, made watermelon jelly, watermelon fruit leather (no strawberries left over to make leather with) and canned tomatillos and tomatoes. The OJ concentrate is an interesting idea. My little one can't have citrus (acid reflux) but I'll try it with my older kiddo!

geminitrudy on February 05, 2012:

I like to dehydrate extra fruit during the summer/fall and rehydrate it in all natural applesauce to make fruit leather (strawberries, pineapple, etc.). Also, I discovered that you can mix two 24 oz jars of natural applesauce with one can of OJ concentrate to make orange flavored fruit leather. I tried making watermelon fruit leather before (without sugar) and it almost tasted like tomatoes so I don't recommend it either. :o)

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on February 05, 2012:

Sugar is certainly not necessary for most fruit leather recipes! I haven't tried making watermelon fruit leather without sugar because the water content is so high, but I suspect it might work. I know a lot of people make strawberry and pear fruit leather without any added sugar - the fruit is sweet enough all by itself! Fruit dehydrators are wonderful - they're expensive so we just use our oven, but a dehydrator is probably faster for making fruit chips and leathers!

geminitrudy on February 05, 2012:

I have a son with ADHD and have discovered sugar is a very bad thing for him. I make my "fruit roll ups" without any added sugar/honey and he loves them. The natural sugars in the fruit is enough. Even the neighborhood children love them! I went ahead and got a dehydrator (which I love) so that I can make a large batch all at once.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on October 04, 2011:

Thanks, Peggy! It is really easy to do (though the drying takes all day long, it really isn't "work time," if you know what I mean). The results are delicious!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2011:

What a great article! I am going to forward this to people I know who have children and are concerned about eating healthier alternatives. Thanks! Voted up and useful!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 22, 2011:

It is very simple. It takes some time, though (you don't want to bake the fruit leather at too high of a temperature, or you'll destroy the natural vitamins and anti-oxidants in it). Very old recipes for fruit leather call for simple pureed fruit and laying it out in the sunshine! It can't get simpler than that, lol!

olga khumlo from Mira Road Mumbai India on September 22, 2011:

Appears simple and delicious.Voted up.

Thanks Leah.I love your recipe.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 22, 2011:

Thanks, Billabongbob! It really is easy. Watermelon has the extra step of straining off the extra juice, but the other fruits are basically "puree and dry." I may make some "plum leather" later today because we have those coming out of our ears.

billabongbob from South Wales, UK on September 22, 2011:

Wow, amazing hub :D

What a fabulous idea. I didn't realise that it was so easy, I'm going to have to give this a go.

Thank you for bringing this tp my attention, much appreciated.

Voted up, interesting, useful and awesome.

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