Is it just me or is this a bumper year for strawberries? My accidental strawberry patch (it started as a potted plant then escaped to the gravel and has taken over) is producing way more than I could ever eat, freeze or smoothie-ify. Jam is an option, but I’ve been looking for something less sugary, yet equally non-perishable. Enter fruit leather!
My fellow Americans know fruit leather as “fruit roll-ups”, which when purchased from the shop contains just as much sugar as that jam I’m trying to avoid. But if you start with real fruit, puree it and dry it yourself, you’ll find the fruit needs little sugar if any. The drying process super-concentrates the fruit sugars leaving you with a naturally sweet “leather” that tastes like pure fruit
Strawberries are perfect for this and since the elderflowers are in bloom, I thought I’d kick up my fruit leather with a little elder-injection. I also had some homemade apple puree in the freezer, the lingering remains from last year’s orchard crop, so I thawed that out, added some grated fresh ginger, and turned that into leather, too. The apple was by far my favourite – I added a LOT of ginger and I loved the spicy kick. But I must admit, the strawberry leather tastes like pure summer.
These fruit leathers are perfect for the lunchbox or for taking on long hikes. In fact, “hiking” was my motivation for all this as I’m heading to the Lake District this weekend and am getting ready to hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in July. The fruit leather will be a welcome energy shot on the “rocky road” (and for a super energy shot – fruit leather rolled up with almond butter!).
Best of all, you can do this in the oven (no fancy dehydrator necessary).
You can skip the elderflower in this but it does add that extra something. Try swapping it out with other flavour add-ins: orange zest, cinnamon, ginger… be creative! And feel free to sub the strawberries for any other fruit. You can do this in either an oven or a dehydrator; I’ve included instructions for both. If you live in a warm climate, you can also do this on a hot day by simply leaving the fruit to dry out in the sun!
- 5 cups strawberries, stems removed and halved (or any other fruit)
- 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste)
- 3-4 clusters of elderflowers (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, on a low heat, cook the strawberries until they are soft and the juices are released.
- Tie up the elderflowers in a muslin or jelly bag and add to the juicy strawberries. Cover, leave to cool, then put in the refrigerator and leave overnight. (If you skip the elderflowers, there’s no need to leave the strawberries overnight – you can make your leather right away!)
- The next day, preheat oven to its lowest temperature setting.
- Remove the elderflower bundle and pour the berries into a blender. Add the honey and puree.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pour the berry mixture onto parchment lined pan – it should be about 1/8 inch thick.
- Put in the oven and bake for 4-6 hours, until leather peels away easily from the parchment. Using scissors cut into rectangles and roll them up, parchment and all.
- Follow the oven method through step 4.
- Spread the mixture out onto a dehydrator sheet to about 1/8 inch thickness.
- Dehydrate at 130 F / 50 C for four hours. Check the fruit leather periodically – when it peels away easily, peel it off, flip it over and dry for another hour or two.
- Remove from dehydrator and use scissors or a pizza roller to cut it into you desired shapes.