I am in love (rolls eyes heavenward)…pause…pause….pause…. but not only with my adorable husband, but with this Banana Split Fruit Leather! As I was cutting the leather into strips the rich aroma of banana, chocolate and peanuts cradled my nose.
My sense of smell came to full attention! (sa-lut!) The aroma lingered heavily in the air… taunting me, teasing me, enticing me, begging me to eat it! I had to practice self-control and duck tape my mouth shut, shackle my hands behind my back and drive myself to middle of the Sierra Desert, but I other than that, I managed to save some for my loved ones.
Banana splits are meant to be shared so when I packaged these up for gift giving, I put two leathers per bag, in hopes that they will be shared. So here’s to hoping!
Oh, before I let you go, I did use roasted peanuts in this recipe. I wasn’t able to locate any raw peanuts locally, so I did my best and bought organic, roasted peanuts. If you do use raw peanuts, keep in mind that it will affect the flavor a bit.
If you are familiar with raw peanuts, you will know what I mean. Did you know that the peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils? If you have peanut allergies, you could replace them with any other nut. So, I raise my spatula and bid you a farewell, until the next raw recipe that is.
yields 5 cups puree
5 cups organic, fresh strawberries
5 medium (7″), ripe bananas
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs or vegan, gluten-free mini chocolate chips
1 cup peanuts (I had use roasted, unable to readily get raw)
Select RIPE or slightly overripe strawberries and bananas that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor. (use bananas with brown speckled peels)
Puree the fruit, in the blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and sweeten more if needed. If using raw cacao nibs, you most likely will need to add a sweetener since it is raw and very bitter. Keep in mind that flavors will intensify as they dehydrate. When adding a sweetener do so a little at a time, and reblend, tasting until it is at the desired taste. It is best to use a liquid type sweetener. Don’t use a granulated sugar because it tends to change the texture.
In the food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, add the peanuts and cacao nibs. Pulse until the peanuts are broken down into small pieces.
Add the peanuts and nibs to the blender with the puree and hit the pulse button 2x, or just enough to mix everything together.
Spread the fruit puree on teflex sheets that come with your dehydrator. Pour the puree to create an even depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. If you don’t have teflex sheets for the trays, you can line your trays with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Do not use wax paper or aluminum foil.
Lightly coat the food dehydrator plastic sheets or wrap with a cooking spray, I use coconut oil that comes in a spray.
When spreading the puree on the liner, allow about an inch of space between the mixture and the outside edge. The fruit leather mixture will spread out as it dries, so it needs a little room to allow for this expansion.
Be sure to spread the puree evenly on your drying tray. When spreading the puree mixture, try tilting and shaking the tray to help it distribute more evenly. Also, it is a good idea to rotate your trays throughout the drying period. This will help assure that the leathers dry evenly.
Dehydrate the fruit leather at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, reduce temp to 115 degrees (F) and continue drying for about 16 (+/-) hours. Flip the leather over about half way through, remove the teflex sheet and continue drying on the mesh sheet.
Check for dark spots on top of the fruit leather. If dark spots can be seen it is a sign that it is not completely dry.
Press down on the fruit leather with a finger. If no indentation is visible or if it is no longer tacky to the touch, the fruit leather is dry and can be removed from the dehydrator.
Peel the leather from the dehydrator trays or parchment paper. If it peels away easily and holds its shape after peeling, it is dry. If it is still sticking or loses its shape after peeling, it needs further drying.
Under-dried fruit leather will not keep; it will mold. Over-dried fruit leather will become hard and crack, although it will still be edible and will keep for a long time
Storage: to store the finished fruit leather…
Allow the leather to cool before wrapping up to avoid moisture from forming, thus giving it a breeding ground for molds.
Roll them up and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Click (here) to see photos on how I wrap them.
Place in an air-tight container, and store in a dry, dark place. (Light will cause the fruit leather to discolor.)
The fruit leather will keep at room temperature for one month, or in a freezer for up to one year.
Why do I start the dehydrator at 145 degrees (F). Click (here) to learn the reason behind this.
When working with fresh ingredients it is important to taste test as you build a recipe. Learn why (here).
Don’t own a dehydrator? Learn how to use your oven (here). I do however truly believe that it is a worthwhile investment. Click (here) to learn what I use.