When I was a kid, one of the most sought after snacks at school was the Fruit Roll-up. Man, I loved those thin sheets of deliciously sweet fruit leather, stuck on a plastic film, all conveniently packaged to go. (Strawberry and grape were the best flavours ever!) I was feeling a bit of nostalgia when I picked up a box of strawberry Fruit Roll-ups in the grocery store the other day. I reminisced about sitting at my desk and triumphantly pulling that Fruit Roll-up out of my lunch bag. The sweet smell that made my mouth water the moment I opened up the package.
And then I turned the box over and took a look at the ingredients list: corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, pear puree concentrate, palm oil. Notice anything missing? Where are the strawberries? If you have to go four ingredients down before touching on anything fruitish, it’s not really fruit anything, is it? I can do better!
A couple of weeks ago I showed you how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin puree. What if I used this to make some homemade fruit leather? Given the season, let’s make pumpkin pie leather! What a great fall treat – it’s like pumpkin pie to go!
The base of this fruit leather is made from a combination of pumpkin puree and unsweetened applesauce. Yes, you can buy these ready made, but you can easily make your own too. Here are directions for making pumpkin puree, and here’s how I make my homemade applesauce. (For this recipe I skipped adding the spices to my applesauce and just used it plain.)
I added coconut cream (the thick, creamy part off the top of a can of chilled full-fat coconut milk) for the creaminess of a good pumpkin pie, maple syrup for a touch of sweetness, and lemon juice to brighten the flavour. Then some vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of all spice, and a pinch of sea salt. I pureed everything as smooth as possible and spread it out in a thin layer (aim for 1/8 of an inch) on a couple of parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
Here’s one of those times I wish I had a dehydrator. But I don’t, so I used my oven on low instead. I set it at 170 degrees on the convection setting. If you don’t have a convection oven that’s fine, it might just take a little longer. If your oven doesn’t go that low, put it on the lowest setting and leave the oven door slightly ajar. It took about six and a half hours for mine to be done.
You can see that as it dried, it darkened. The parchment paper wrinkled a little when it got wet, and those wrinkles caused little cracks when it dried. It doesn’t affect the taste at all, but it’s not as pretty as if I’d done this on a silicon mat instead. I think I need to invest in a couple of those for next time.
Anyway, you can tell your pumpkin pie leather is ready when it’s dry to the touch and easily peels off the parchment paper. I cut it into strips and rolled it up. Ta-da! Homemade fruit roll-ups made entirely from real, whole foods, with enough sugar to taste good, but not so much that I don’t feel comfortable feeding this to my girls.
- Puree all ingredients together in food processor or blender.
- Pour mixture over cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place in oven to dehydrate at 170 degrees for 6-8 hours.