This post contains affiliate links which help me support my family… at no extra cost to you! You can read my disclaimer here.
Fall activity for kids: make homemade fruit leather together. It’s has a big “wow factor” but is easy to make with simple, store-bought applesauce.
Homemade Fruit Leather: 1) pour & spread, 2) cook slow & low, 3) cut into strips. DONE.
Homemade Fruit Leather is So Rad
I know I’m a food blogger and everything… but even I used to eye-roll when I saw things like homemade fruit leather on Pinterest. I mentally filed it under “things ain’t nobody got time for.” Just like making a fall doorscape out of spray painted dollar store finds. Like, cool, but dang. I’m busy.
Thennnnn I had this jar of applesauce that I just could NOT seem to use up. So, I tried making fruit leather. And listen up:
- QUICK & EASY. It only takes about 10 minutes of work. Spread applesauce. Peel up fruit leather, cut in strips.
- CHEAP. As of Sept 2019, a 48oz jar of applesauce at Walmart is only $1.98. This will make you probably 2 or 3 pans of fruit leather… meaning DOZENS of fruit roll ups for under two bucks. A box of 6 sugar-filled fruit roll ups is about $3, and a box of 8 organic fruit leather strips will set ya back about $6.
- HEALTHY. Betty Crocker strawberry roll ups are made of the ingredients on the right. The first 3 ingredients are corn syrup, dried corn syrup and sugar. Yeah, my kid will NOT have patience for math if she eats this at lunchtime. This recipe uses ONLY APPLESAUCE. Just smashed up apples. I feel good about putting that in her growing body.
- LEGIT FUN FOR KIDS. Pouring out a whole jar of applesauce is super fun. Spreading it thin is strangely satisfying. Then a couple hours later, when kids help peel it up, it’s seriously like a magic trick! My daughter giggled her head off at the transformation. Her best friend warily tried a bite, but then at the whole thing, saying “Mmm… this is REALLY good!”
While it’s probably not something I’d make every week, I definitely plan to keep making a jumbo batch once a month for the whole family to enjoy. It’s like a little craft project, more than cooking.
How to Make Homemade Fruit Leather with Applesauce
Grab some applesauce. With fall coming, I HAVE TO HAVE CINNAMON in my apples. You can use plain applesauce, cinnamon applesauce or add cinnamon to plain applesauce. You do you.
Simply pour that applesauce onto a baking sheet that’s lined with a silicone baking mat. I have been using a 2-pack of them from Amazon for a long time now and they work just fine for me!
I use the flat edge of a spatula to spread the applesauce evenly… about 1/8″ of an inch.
It turns out, my oven has a “dehydrate” button. If yours does, use that! If not, just set it as low as it’ll go… ideally, 170. You want to dehydrate the applesauce, not cook it.
Let it dehydrate for about 3 hours. You’ll know it’s done when you tap a clean, dry finger in various spots and it all feels dry. If your finger leaves a mark in the applesauce or it feels wet, it’s not done yet.
Let the pan cool for a bit. Then use a metal spatula to gently peel up one corner of the fruit leather. If you care about things being done perfectly, keep gently peeling the whole sheet of fruit leather up… using fingers and a spatula. If you’re not that into precision, let the kids help! Yeah, it may tear from overzealous pulling, but it’s SO FUN for little hands to do.
Then just plop the whole sheet on top of parchment paper. Grab some kitchen scissors and cut the fruit leather AND parchment paper into strips. Yeah, I tied these with adorable twine because… well… food blogger. But in real life, I use tape. 🙂
Tips for Perfect Homemade Fruit Leather
Yeah, the pan will be in the oven for 3 hours or so.
This may not be a problem if you’re making fruit leather with the kiddos on a fall weekend… but if you need to leave the house, I have a solution for ya! Just turn the oven off and leave the pan in there. It’ll stay warm for a while and keep dehydrating. Then when you come back home, check it, and turn it back on. There’s no yeast or baking magic that needs to happen here. It’ll be fine. 🙂
How do I know if it’s done? If you tap the surface with a clean, dry finger and it feels solid all over: it’s done. If your finger smooshes into applesauce, leaves marks or it feels soft/wet: it’s not done.
K, here’s the thing. If you have a dehydrating machine, by all means, use that. I have a small kitchen and try to limit the small appliances! 😉 Also, every oven is different. My oven happens to have a dehydrate button and I can set it for 170° F. All of my previous ovens only went as low as 200° F. Go with that. You should be fine.
Did your fruit leather overcook? Ovens have an internal thermometer. When you set it to a certain temperature, it may be actually hotter or cooler inside the oven. Check out Jillee’s post “How to Calibrate Your Oven for Better Baking” if meals take longer or burn faster than a recipe’s times. I mention this, because if your oven is actually hotter than the temp you set… well… your applesauce may COOK instead of dehydrate. And you might not end up with fruit leather.
How to Store Homemade Fruit Leather
Make a big ol’ batch of fruit leather, then store in strips or roll-ups in a freezer zipper bag or glass food storage container and keep it in your pantry. They’ll keep for 2 or even 4 weeks this way… although they may be eaten faster! I’ve read that you can keep them in the freezer for up to a year, but I haven’t tested that.
Hungry for More Kid-Approved Recipes?
- 2 cups applesauce
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or use cinnamon applesauce)
- Set your oven to its lowest temperature (170°-200° F).
- Lay a silicone baking mat on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Pour applesauce onto the mat.
- Using a rubber spatula, spread the applesauce into an even 1/8″ layer.
- Dehydrate in the oven for about 3 hours.
- Let cool. Then use a metal spatula to gently lift a corner of the fruit leather up. Gently continue to peel the whole sheet off.
- Place fruit leather on top of parchment paper. Using scissors, cut the fruit leather and the parchment paper underneath into 2″ x 5″ strips.
- Leave as strips or roll up and tape shut.
- Store in a freezer zipper bag or glass food storage container, and keep in a cool dark place for 2-4 weeks.
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Dehydrate
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: fruit leather, fruit strips, homemade fruit leather, fruit roll ups, vegan kid snacks