How to Make Homemade Fruit Rollups
Reasons to Make Homemade Fruit Leather
Fruit leather is a wonderful, easy way to preserve fruit, and is a healthy food for a child’s lunch box or after-school snack. The store bought version of fruit leather goes by the brand names “Fruit By the Foot” or “Fruit Roll-Ups.” The commercial versions of fruit leather are not as healthy as the homemade versions, as they contain artificial dyes, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup.
Generally, all that is required for making fruit leather is a blender, fruit, and a baking sheet. Lemon juice (or lime juice) is recommended, because it is an anti-oxidant that helps to maintain the color of the fruit leather and will give a nice, bright flavor to the homemade version. Some fruits also require a little added sugar. If sugar is called for in a recipe, try to use honey instead, as sugar can give a granular texture to the finished fruit rollup. If granular sugar is used, then use a brand with ultra-fine crystals.
Commercial Fruit Leather vs. Homemade Fruit Leather
Commercial fruit leather is not nearly as healthy as the homemade counterpart. All commercial fruit roll-ups are made from pear concentrate, even if the stated “flavor” on the package is strawberry. Artificial flavors and colors are added to change the characteristics of the commercial variety. In fact, the commercial Fruit RollUp “treat” is considered a pectin-based fruit flavored candy. This is much, much different than the wholesome goodness of homemade fruit leather. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the commercial fruit rollup vs. a homemade recipe:
Commercial Fruit RollUp Ingredients vs. Homemade Fruit Leather
Homemade Strawberry Fruit Leather
Strawberry Fruit RollUp (General Mills)
Pears From Concentrate
Sugar (or Honey)
Dried Corn Syrup
Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Fruit Leather with Real Fruit
Watermelon Fruit Leather Recipe
I recently made a batch of fruit leather from watermelons. One medium sized watermelon yielded one sheet of fruit leather. Three simple ingredients are required for making watermelon fruit leather:
- Watermelon puree
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup sugar (or honey)
The lemon juice can be substituted with lime juice, and the granulated sugar can be substituted with honey for a smoother fruit leather texture.
Step 1: Puree Fruit
Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step One
Cut up a watermelon and discard the seeds and rind. Place the chopped watermelon into a blender and blend until the watermelon is a smooth puree. The watermelon used in these pictures is an Orange Tendersweet watermelon (an heirloom variety), and this watermelon has an orange flesh. This will create orange fruit leather: for a red watermelon fruit leather, use a traditional watermelon variety. Seedless varieties are easier to cut and blend.
Note that you will need a medium sized watermelon to make enough puree for 1 sheet of fruit leather. Due to the high water content of watermelon, only 1 cup of strained puree will be obtained from a medium-to-large sized watermelon.
Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Two
Watermelon has a very high water content, so drain off some of the extra watermelon juice by passing the watermelon puree through a sieve or filter. To make my fruit leather, I used thick paper towels as a liner to my colander: this was effective and separated the thicker puree from the watermelon juice. The watermelon juice can be reserved to turn into watermelon syrup, if desired.
Add the lemon juice and sugar (or honey) to the puree and mix thoroughly.
Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Three
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Spray cooking spray into a baking sheet or pan: this will prevent the fruit leather from sticking to the bottom of the pan as it dries out. Lining the baking tray with plastic wrap will make pulling the fruit leather out of the tray much easier, and is recommended. Pour the watermelon puree into the pan, to a depth of about 1/8”. If you like thicker fruit leather, increase the depth to ¼”: my family prefers the thinner, fruit rollup style of fruit leather, so I always try to keep my layer as thin as possible. Place the pan into the oven and leave it undisturbed for 6 hours. If you have a convection oven, the drying time will be much shorter, and may be finished by the end of four hours.
Watermelon Fruit Leather: Step Four
After 4-6 hours (depending on the type of oven), check the fruit leather by touching it gently with one finger in the center of the pan – fruit leather dries from the outside edges in, so be sure to test the center of the sheet. When the fruit leather is no longer sticky in any way, it is done. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely. Once cool, peel the fruit leather away from the pan. Cut the fruit leather into strips and serve!
Other Fruit Leather Recipes
Fruit leather can be made from nearly any fruit. Follow the same general recipe: ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup sweetener (if desired) to enough pureed fruit to cover a baking pan to a depth of 1/8”. Some specific recipes are listed below:
Strawberry Fruit Leather
Remove the green tops from the strawberries. Place the strawberries in a saucepot and simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft (use ½ cup of water for every 4 cups of berries). Puree the fruit, add lemon juice and honey in equal amounts, and pour the fruit onto a baking sheet to dry. Heat at 170 degrees for 6-8 hours.
Peach Fruit Leather
Remove the pits and skins from peaches. Puree the peaches, add any desired seasonings (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.), and the lemon juice and sweetener (if desired). Pour the puree into a baking pan and bake for 6-8 hours.
Note: some people prefer to use raw fruit for the puree, and others prefer to simmer the fruit in a small amount of water prior to making a puree. Simmering the fruit prior to blitzing it in the blender does two things: it concentrates the flavor of the fruit, and it also kills off any potential bacteria on the fruit surface.
Fruit Leather Storage
Storing Fruit Leather
How long will fruit leather last? Properly stored, fruit leather will last about 1 month in a cool, dark pantry. To store fruit leather for longer periods of time, roll sheets of fruit leather in wax paper and place them in the freezer. As our fruit leather disappears rather quickly into lunch boxes, I cut our fruit leather into strips and seal it using Glad Press and Seal plastic wrap. It is usually gone within a week!
The first time I wrapped our fruit leather, I used aluminum foil (you can see the foil backing in the picture to the right). Unfortunately, the fruit leather will become tacky during storage and will stick to the aluminum foil: it is better to use wax paper or plastic wrap to store fruit leather.