Classic apple fruit leather is probably the easiest fruit leather you’ll ever make. It’s a good place to start if you’ve never made leather before. The reason it’s so easy? It’s simply applesauce poured into your dehydrators.
Since this leather is so easy, I’ll take the time here to discuss dehydrators. I have a Nesco dehydrator. I wish it were square. My grandmother’s was rectangular. My mother assures me that round is the best drying power because of the hole in the middle, and an even distribution from that hole. I don’t know. I still wish it were square like this one, but she’s probably right. There’s just no good way to keep a pie-shaped fruit leather in nice rectangular roll. My mom says I’m being silly. Isn’t dried-thoroughly better than cut-square? She’s probably right. But in the meantime, I usually just store mine in pie wedges. I bet if I sliced them a bit thinner, my kiddo would eat them better, because believe it or not, a whole pie shape is a lot of fruit to swallow. She’d probably eat them better if instead of dividing the dry fruit-leather pie into 5 sections, I divided it into 15 sections.
My dehydrator says to dry fruits at 135º. The internet says to make it 140º. Following either instruction will leave me with something rubbery and very undesirable. It dries the outside too quickly and leaves the centers still gooey and moisture-laden. Moisture means mold and spoilage. Bad news. I dried my leather between 115 and 125º, depending on the thickness. It actually took less time to dry at that temperature, because the dry was more thorough. It didn’t have to fight a hard crust to get to the moisture.
That brings up another point… Most ovens don’t go below 170°. I’ve never made fruit leather in an oven. I have heard it can be done, but I don’t know what happens to shelf-life. From what I can understand from the process, it will either shorten self-life greatly or it will give you a tough hart-to-chew product. The internet is full of how to dehydrate in an oven. Most say cook at 175º for 2-4 hours, checking after 1 hour. I think the oven is good in a pinch, but you really should consider a dehydrator if you like the idea of homemade fruit leather. It will give you safer results.
Also note, these recipes are the right size for my dehydrator trays. You may need to adjust the amounts for your own individual trays/drying methods.
Now, on a more specific note, classic apple leather is my daughter’s favorite. She likes things plain and simple. I personally think it’s kind of… boring. But if your kid (or you) like boring, you may love this leather.
The recipe? Just 1 1/2 c of applesauce. Smooth it onto the tray in as even layer as you can get. The smoother you can get the applesauce, the better it will dry. I plan on investing in a silicone bench scraper, though I don’t own one yet. I think it’d be perfect for getting the layer smooth. My spatula doesn’t quite cut it for me. It works for now, but I’d like an upgrade.
I don’t have any fruit leather trays, and I am on the fence about getting them. Sometimes the food just sticks to them. Instead, I take a square section of parchment paper, place it over the dehydrator tray to mark where I need to make a few cuts to fit over the center vent and then mark the edge of the tray, as well. (I just set it on the tray and rub my fingers over the tray and let a crease form, then I use that as a guide to cut. It’s an imperfect art, but I like the results. I also don’t cut the center all the way off, but make lots of slits, so that if anything is runny, it has less of a chance of falling through the layers. That’s a mess.
- 1 1/2 c applesauce
- Other tools:
- Parchment paper (or leather trays)
- spatula or bench scraper
- Spread the applesauce evenly on the dehydrator tray lined with parchment paper
- Turn dehydrator on and let it do it’s work for 6-8 hours. I start the dehydrator in the morning and turn it off in the afternoon or evening, depending on when it’s done.
- Cut the leather into desired strips or sections. somewhere between 5-15 sections is ideal.