Homemade Fruit Rolls

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Fruit leathers are homemade fruit rolls. They are a tasty, chewy, dried fruit product. Fruit leathers are made by pouring pureéd fruit onto a flat surface for drying. When dried, the fruit is pulled from the surface and rolled. It gets the name “leather” from the fact that when pureéd fruit is dried, it is shiny and has the texture of leather. The advantages of making your own fruit leathers are to save money, use less sugar and to mix fruit flavors. Leftover fruit pulp from making jelly can be blended and made into fruit rolls.

image of hand holding homemade fruit rolls

You can make fruit leathers from fresh, frozen or canned fruit. If using fresh fruit choose ripe or slightly over-ripe fruit. Commercial processed (store-bought) or home-preserved fruit is fine to use. Two cups of fruit will be needed for each 13 x15-inch leather, which is the size of the average electric dehydrator tray. Fruit leathers can also be made in the oven. Fruit leathers can be sweetened or left unsweetened according to preference. If sweetening, honey or corn syrup works better than sugar for longer-term storage because their use prevents the formation of sugar crystals. Adding lemon juice or ascorbic acid will prevent the leather from darkening. For the diabetic, fruit leathers made without sugar are a healthy choice for snacks or desserts. Individual fruit leathers should contain the amount of fruit allowed for the fruit exchange.

When pouring out the fruit puree spread to an even thickness of 1/8 inch. It will take 6 to 8 hours for drying in an electric dehydrator, and around 18 hours in an oven at 140°F. Drying removes the water that would otherwise be available to yeast and mold microorganisms that cause spoilage. It is important to dry fruit leathers adequately to prevent their growth. Leathers are ready when no indentation is left when the center is touched (the center is the last to dry). At room temperature wrapped leathers will last for 1 month and can be kept for a year in the freezer. With Fall season here be sure to use your fruit or fruits of choice to make homemade fruit rolls.

Directions follow for making fruit leathers. Fresh, frozen or drained canned fruit can be used.

Leathers From Fresh Fruit

  • Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit.
  • Wash fresh fruit in cool water. Remove peel, seeds, and stem.
  • Cut fruit into chunks. Use 2 cups of fruit for each 13 x 15-inch fruit leather. Pureé fruit until smooth.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid (375 mg) for each 2 cups light colored fruit to prevent darkening.
  • Optional: To sweeten, add corn syrup, honey or sugar. Use ¼ to ½ cup sugar, corn syrup or honey for each 2 cups of fruit.

Preparing the Trays

For drying in the oven, a 13 X 15-inch cookie pan with edges works well. Line pan with plastic wrap being careful to smooth out wrinkles. Do not use waxed paper or aluminum foil.

To dry in a dehydrator, specially designed plastic sheets can be purchased or plastic trays can be lined with plastic wrap.

Pouring the Leather

Fruit leathers can be poured into a single large sheet (13 X 15-inch) or into several smaller sizes. Spread pureé evenly, about 1/8-inch thick, onto drying tray. Avoid pouring pureé too close to the edge of the cookie sheet. The larger fruit leathers take longer to dry. Approximate drying times are 6 to 8 hours in a dehydrator, up to 18 hours in an oven.

Drying the Leather

Dry fruit leathers at 140ºF. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching center of leather; no indentation should be evident. While warm, peel from plastic and roll, allow to cool and rewrap the roll in plastic. Cookie cutters can be used to cut out shapes that children will enjoy. Roll, and wrap in plastic.

For more information on cooking and other topics please contact North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Center at 919-496-3344 or Dominque Simon, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent,  dominque_simon@ncsu.edu.

References: National Center for Home Food Preservation and Safe Plates for Food Safety Information Center