Monday, August 6, 2012

Preserving: Homemade Fruit Roll Ups ~ A Recipe

When I was a child, back in the days before home computers, cell phones, and Internet (my children don't understand how we survived), I loved me a good fruit roll-up.  You'd take the roll out of it's package and peel that leather off the wax paper.  From there, it was a matter of art and personal expression.  Some would roll the fruit leather back up and eat it like a burrito.  Others would hold it flat like a tortilla and take bites off it.  Me?  I rolled it around my thumb and sucked it clean off.  Wait.  I didn't actually just share my technique to the public, did I?  Don't tell anyone.

Now on to more adult-ish talk.  Did you know some kinds of fruit roll ups don't even have any fruit?  And most of them contain high fructose corn syrup (probably GMO), partially hydrogenated soybean oil ( also probably GMO), artificial colors and flavors, and MSG (listed as "natural flavor")?!  What the what?
"Sign me up for eating every horrid ingredient on the planet disguised as a fruit snack!"
Said no one ever.
Fruit leathers are the simplest things to make and the only ingredient needed is -- get this -- fruit!  You may also add spices like cinnamon if you want to get wild and crazy.

I waited forever to make fruit leathers because I thought I needed official non-stick dehydrator sheets. (NOTE: Although they won't be raw, you can still make these in the oven at 170º.  Check on them after 6 hours.) Then I remembered how I used to peel the leathers off the wax and thought, why not dehydrate them right on the wax paper?  Uh, yeah.  So here's how it works.  I've found that filling the blender with fruit will make enough purée for three sheets on the ol' Excalibur.  Depending on how many trays your dehydrator has, make as many batches that you need to fill that thing up.  If you can purée a fruit, you can leather it.  Here's what we're making today:

Peach Cobbler Fruit Roll Ups
Makes about 15, prep: 10 minutes, dehydrate 6-8 hours
  • 2 bananas
  • 4 peaches
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel bananas.  Remove peach pits & cut out any bruises.

Purée all ingredients in a blender.  You'll get the best results in a high speed blender like a Vita-Mix.  You might need to use the agitator to push fruit down to the blades.

Cover 3 dehydrator trays with wax paper (I like to use this unbleached kind).  Pour 1/3 purée over each tray.  Spread it as evenly as possible over the paper so it will dry evenly.  I use my favorite spatula of all history for this job.

  Remember that the leathers will shrink to less than half their current sizes, so spread them to about this thickness (about 1/3 inch, but no need to get too perfectionistic):

Dehydrate at 105º for about 6-8 hours, depending on the thickness of the leather.  Check on them periodically.  If they are dried for too long, they will become chips.  Not long enough will leave them with soggy spots and unsafe to store at room temperature.  Once they are ready, they'll be firm enough to peel off but not at all brittle.
Roll the sheets up, one at a time, in a tight spiral.

Cut them evenly into fourths.  This will make a sizable roll up.

Now roll individual leathers in plastic wrap.  Store in the pantry.  If they are fully dehydrated with no soggy spots, they should be good at room temperature for six months to a year.

  • I love that the leathers have practically no contact with the toxic-leaching plastic wrap with this method.   
  • These are fabulous snacks for on the go and something wonderful to slip into school lunches.  They have been tested on eight picky eaters who love the Trader Joe's fruit leathers and they said they liked these better!
  • Many flavors can be made.  Our favorites are blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry.  We like berries.  And all you use are, well, the berries!  In the fall we look forward to apple roll ups.
  • I struggle that there is waste involved.  Ya just can't reuse wax paper and plastic wrap, I'm afraid.  
Cost breakdown:
Because it's easiest to see the pricing using a 2-pound box of blueberries, I'm going to pull this from making two batches of blueberry leathers.  Banana leathers are probably the cheapest to make unless you're using homegrown produce, the next cheapest is fruit, then berries.  Two pounds organic blueberries made 2 batches (30 roll-ups), costing 17 cents each.  The fruit leathers we used to buy at Trader Joe's cost 49 cents.  If you are working with homegrown produce or some given to you, these babies are free outside of the wax paper and plastic wrap!

Do I think it's worth it?  Well, all my children enjoy them, it only takes about ten minutes of my time to blend, spread, cut, and wrap many of them at once, and they are super cheap.  I'm in love!  This is definitely one method of preserving we will continue to use.

Thrilled with the size of this fruit roll up.


  1. Yum! I'm definitely going to be trying this today...I know my kids will love it!

    PS I don't know how I've missed this, but I just realized you guys live in Redding. We're in Chico (well, we actually just bought a little farm right outside Chico). We used to come up to Bethel all the time, but it's a little bit harder with four kids. I love your blog and have pinned and used to many of your recipes. Thank you!

  2. Well hello, neighbor! ;)
    Congrats on your farm, how heavenly. Nice to meet you! Maybe we'll run into each other at church someday. :)

  3. Hi :-) sounds yummy, our kids'grama thinks love means "fruit" snacks so I am excited to have a healthy option to give them after they spend time with her and ask (and ask and ask) for us to buy them. But....I was wondering....! I don't have a dehydrator, can I do the same temp and time in the oven? Have you or anyone tried it that way? Duh I'm new to the kitchen thanks :-)

  4. You can totally make them in the oven! They won't be considered raw, but still very healthy. Set your oven to the lowest it can go (probably 170º) and check it after 6 hours.

  5. Hi! Just you have a good recipe for the blueberry kind or any other kind? I want to try them all out!

  6. Yeah! Can't wait to try it. I have a dehydrator that just sits there and needs to be put to good use :-)

  7. Haha, I ate mine the same way. There's just no better way to eat them... Until you become an adult, and realize how germy it is. Ahh,... the days of innocence.

    Love making these! I'll have to save your recipe and try it out sometime :).


  8. Yes! A fellow fruit roll-up thumb-sucker! Haha. It's so true, I hate thinking how germy that technique is. Ew.

  9. All I do is blend blueberries into a purée and dehydrate them as shown above. :) Have fun!

  10. Hi Katie-
    I've tried this recipe twice now and keep running into a similar problem. Unfortunately, I don't have a dehydrator, so I have to use an oven. Try #1-I put them on wax paper and then on a cookie sheet, but they turned out so thin (but not brittle) that I could not separate them from the wax paper. Try #2-I made them thicker, put them on wax paper, and then on a silpat, but while they could sort of peel of, they separated because the bottom was not as dry as the top? I'm guessing the issue is placing them on a medium so that the bottom of the leather doesn't dry at the same rate as the top? Maybe the third time will be a charm (just put the wax paper on the oven rack?? I'd appreciate any helpful suggestions! Thanks! :)

  11. Hi Heather!
    You might try baking them longer; up to ten hours; maybe even longer! I wouldn't put the wax paper right on the oven rack; it could catch fire. If you put it on a cookie sheet with the fruit purée about 1/8 inch thick and cook it for ten plus hours, you should have better results. If it dries unevenly, you could even cut out the dry parts and let the still soggy parts bake even longer. I hope this helps!

  12. I used parchment paper in the oven and it came off fine.

  13. Can you use parchment paper instead of wax paper? I read somewhere to use this and NOT wax paper for making fruit leather. Not sure where I read that. I'm going to try this as soon as the fruit leathers I got at Costco run out. Hopefully with strawberries from our garden!

  14. The wax paper I use is unbleached, non-GMO soy wax so I'm not worried about our food coming in contact with paraffin. The brand is "If You Care." I haven't tried it with parchment paper, so I'm not sure how it would turn out.

  15. One thing you could try in order to prevent sticking is to very, very lightly oil the sheets with some coconut oil.


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