Sunday, September 8, 2013

100% Fruit - Peach Fruit Roll Ups (Fruit Leather)

 *I should note that this method to make fruit roll-ups can be used with any fruit, or fruit combinations, but I used peaches.
  This year (like most years) we were abundantly blessed with peaches. We only have the one peach tree, but it annually gives us more peaches than we could ever use in one summer. So, I went about making my usual summer peach treats (Peach Pie, peach cobbler, peach smoothies). I gave peaches away and I froze bags and bags of peaches to use during the winter months.  I was still left with a ton of peaches, and I had my fill of peeling them. My wonderful husband has been home in the past to help me peel and process the peaches but this year he was gone most of "peach season" fighting forest fires. I debated making more of my Homemade/Homegrown Peach Preserves but that would require more peeling and I was over it already.
    My friend Lynn had mentioned that they like to make fruit leather with their peaches. She puts the peaches in the blender with a little fruit preservative (completely optional) and the pours the fruit puree onto a baking sheet and then dries them outside by her pool all day. I loved the idea of making my own fruit leather, but since critters, birds and insects in my neck of the woods rules out the option of drying outside, I looked online for an oven-drying option.
   I found one from for Homemade Fruit Leather, but it called for peeling the peaches. (You know I wasn't going to do that.) I always try to use the whole food whenever possible to get the most nutritional bang for my buck out of my food. So, I got the basic idea (puree fruit, pour it onto a baking sheet and dry on your lowest oven setting for 6-8 hours) and went to work.

I made two batches, and debated even blogging this "recipe" because it's so simple. I ended up taking pictures with my second batch.
  Here's what I did:
I washed a bunch of peaches. Then I cut them in half, took the pits out and then roughly sliced them.

I loaded up my parents VitaMix blender (one day I'll be able to spend a few hundred on a blender, but for now I'm o.k. with just borrowing one). A blender with a good motor is best. It ended up being 8 cups of sliced peaches. (Again, this was my second batch so the blender is a little cloudy with peach puree - sorry.)

Here's a better view from the top:
Now, at this point you could leave it like this. 100% fruit, and that's perfect. I like to add a little lemon juice so that the final product isn't so brown, but that's completely optional. I should note that the final product is going to be a little darker than others you might find on the Internet (like the one mentioned above), because I'm using the skins as well as the fruit. If your fruit isn't as sweet as you would like it, you can also add your sweetener of choice (i.e. agave, honey, granulated sugar, etc.).

Just put the lid on, and blend it up until completely smooth.  (Think baby-food smooth. This is actually how you can make your own baby food - just FYI.)

The next step is to have a baking sheet (or two cookie sheets) lined with parchment paper ready.

Then pour enough puree onto the paper to be about 1/4 inch thick (that's 1/2 the puree for my blender)

 Spread the puree evenly over the cookie sheet. (And offset spatula is best, but a regular one works too.)

When it's evened out, put it into the oven at the lowest setting (that's 170F for me) and let it dry for 6-8 hours. You want to be able to touch the fruit leather in the center, and have it not be squishy. (Like my technical term?)

 This is what it will look like: I like to take my clean kitchen scissors and cut strips of the paper and the fruit leather together. I prefer the thinner strips (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide) but my hubby just rips off large chunks before I can even cut them. Really, any shape would be acceptable. But I wanted to make it look like the store-bough kind.

Then I just roll them up.

Now it looks like a fruit roll-up you buy at the store (but without all the sugar, dyes, syrups and crazy chemicals - only 100% fruit here!) The paper easily peels off the fruit, when you're read to eat it - and it's less sticky and messy this way.

I like to store them in a zip-top bag, but any air-tight container will do. I'm not sure how long they will last, because we always eat them up rather quickly, but I'm guessing you could get a week or two out of them easily.  My 7 yr old says that these are "the best fruit roll ups in the whole world." It makes my happy when I can give my kids wholesome treats that they love. Who knew it was so easy? Now you do. :)

Here's the "recipe"

Peach Fruit Roll-ups (Fruit Leather)

8 cups of sliced peaches
juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
sweetener of choice (i.e. agave, honey or sugar - to taste) (optional)

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Puree the peaches (and lemon juice and sweetener, if using) in a blender until completely smooth.  Pour about half the puree onto each lined cookie sheet and spread out into an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick. Place into the oven and dry it @ 170F (or the lowest your oven can go) for 6-8 hours or until the puree is set and no longer sticky in the center.
   Using clean kitchen scissors, cut the fruit leather and parchment paper into strips. Roll up the strips and keep in an air tight container at room temperature until ready to eat.

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