Monday, June 28, 2010

Fruit Leathers

So, during the season for strawberries I made jam, froze a couple of pounds, and let my kids have strawberries as a vegetable side dish for dinner for about two weeks.  I quickly came to realize that the 8'x4' patch we have is not suitable for all our strawberry loving needs.  I looked around to find a place in the area that offered pick your own organic strawberries.  I was directed to Land's Sake, an amazing nonprofit public farm working for education and conservation.  So we trotted down there, bright and early with our picnic basket in hand to pick a boat-load of strawberries and have a generally fun day.
I managed to pick two quarts, which, while not so bad, was not the idea I had in mind.  I had the idea that we would be out there for at least three hours, all of us (including my two-and-a-half-year-old) working like professionals to acquire the 12-15 pounds we would need for all our smoothies, yogurt pops, and oatmeal for the entire year.  But I usually make the mistake of imaging what I could do without kids running around, needing to go to the bathroom, wanting to see chickens, etc. 
"Girls we have chickens at home...don't you want to come over here and pick more strawberries...girls?"
"Ok, you're sure? Just checking because we can totally go back to getting my to do list done if you want."

When we got home, I just couldn't bare the thought of boiling the strawberries.  I also kind of didn't want to freeze them.  After resigning to the fact that I wasn't going to get a year's worth of strawberries out of the season I figured I may buy organic frozen strawberries and didn't want my precious picked beauties to get lost in the shuffle.  After hemming and hawing and talking to my friend, I decided to make fruit leathers out of them!  It's practically like eating them raw! (Nutritionally speaking, of course).
I pureed them in the blender, oiled my dehydrator tray with a little olive oil and poured it in about 1/4 inch thick. 
 Then I let it dehydrate overnight.  It was too long!  They were more like strawberry chips than leathers.  How disappointing!  Then the kids came running in and were all like, "What's that? Can I have it? Can I have two?"  So it is acceptable for its target market anyway.
This is the first batch. I think I didn't put in enough puree.
 The next batch came out more leathery.  I used my canning head-space measurer thingy to check the thickness of the puree.  I found that I did have to flip it to dehydrate a couple of patches on the underside that just didn't want to dry.  All in all a success.


  1. Considering a small rectangle of fruit leather runs $1 at Trader Joe's, this idea is extremely successful!

  2. I totally missed the strawberry season! I am allergic to them, and do to lack of $ for picking at a farm....I wanted to make 6 quarts of strawberry jam this season,,,,I so need a strawberry patch!

  3. Try adding a banana next time ---according to Excalibur's FAQ a juicy fruit puree (like strawberries) can turn thin and brittle when dried. Love your blog! I'm working on homesteading myself... Hoping it will be easier when I move out of the city!