- Use a blender or food processor to puree about 1 cup of fruit chunks at a time. For apple leather, cook apples first to soften or use applesauce. To keep light-colored fruits from turning dark, add 2 teaspoons lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid per 2 cups of fruit. Puree fruit.
- Thicken juicy puree to shorten the drying time. Place pureed fruit in a deep, heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool.
- To sweeten, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup corn syrup, honey or sugar for each 2 cups of fruit. Corn syrup or honey is best for longer storage because they prevent crystals. Sugar is fine for immediate use or short storage. Saccharin-based sweeteners could also be used to reduce tartness without adding calories. Aspartame sweeteners may lose sweetness during drying. Drying concentrates flavors, making the fruit leather taste sweeter than the puree.
- For extra flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or a dash of nutmeg per quart of puree.
- Line dehydrator trays or cookie sheets (for oven drying) with plastic wrap. Tape plastic to tray on all four sides to keep it from blowing onto the leather.
- Pour pureed fruit onto plastic wrap and spread the puree by tilting the tray or cookie sheet to about 1/8 inch thick. Leave a 1-inch border to allow for spreading during drying.
- Fruit puree may take six to 24 hours to dry. See dryness test below.
- Remove from tray and cool briefly. Place leather on clean plastic wrap and roll up, so plastic separates layers of leather.
Dry time: 6-24 hours
Test for dryness: Leather is done when it has a leathery appearance and is pliable enough to roll up in a jelly-roll fashion. Test by separating leather from plastic wrap. If it separates easily it is done.
Source: MU Extension Publication GH1563, Quality for Keeps: How to Dry Foods at Home