Kitchen’s are not just for adults, they are also an exciting place for children of all ages (do we ever really grow up?). They are lured into the kitchen by the clanking of pots and pans and the aroma of their favorite foods. I guess we are all lured into the kitchen, it’s usually the hub of the house, the heart, the gathering spot. I don’t have children but some of the fondest memories I have growing up happened in the kitchen and even to this day, I am still creating memories in the kitchen.
The kitchen has a way of bringing people together to spend quality time. And sharing your kitchen with young ones early on creates an important bonding experience. With that in mind, I put together this fun recipe that can be enjoyed by all ages. Fruit Roll-Ups are usually well liked by kids so why not teach them just how easy and fun they are to make, and how delicious they are! Helping create a wonderful recipe in the kitchen can make a child feel positive about themselves. And when your child tells the whole family or their friends, “Look at what I made!” they are filled with pride. Then something magical happens… all of us are much more likely to eat nutritious food if we’ve had a hand in making it. The “oohs” and “ahhs” from others as they eat your creation is a great self-esteem builder. I know how I feel when someone loves a dish I’ve made!
So let their creative minds go! Yes, cooking is messy whether it’s done by children or top chefs; accidents are okay. If something finds its way onto the floor, clean it up. If a dish gets broken, recycle it, if half the batter gets eaten before it hits the dehydrator tray, so be it… create positive memories!
Select RIPE or slightly overripe fruit for each puree that has reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
Puree each different flavored puree separately, in the blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and sweeten if needed. 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.
Allow the puree to sit for 10 minutes so the chia has time to thicken the puree. I didn’t add chia to the banana mix because it is a thick puree to begin with.
Transfer the puree into separate squeeze bottles. If you don’t have any squeeze bottles you can place it in a Ziplock baggie, remove the air from the bad and seal. Snip the bottom corner of the bag with a pair of scissors, don’t make it to big or it will be hard to control the puree as it comes out.
PLAY and be creative with 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. 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 8 (+/-) hours. Flip the leather over about half way through, remove the teflex sheet and continue drying on the mesh sheet. Finished consistency should be pliable and easy to roll.
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.
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.