Making homemade fruit leather is made from fruit puree which is then dried. Fruit leathers are great to make for picnics and camping holidays as it is lightweight but packed with flavor and goodness, is a healthy energy snack, and will keep for months. A quart of fruit (640g) will make a strip of leather 6 inches by 24 inches.The time that the fruit takes to get to the leather stage when drying it in the sun really depends on the type of fruit used as well as the weather conditions. However, if all is well, your fruit should become leather in about 20 - 24 hours. If done in an oven, it could take up to 8 hours.
When the fruit candy is firm to the touch it can then be peeled off the plastic lining the baking tray and wrapped up for storage. It should be shiny and feel like leather.
Fruit leathers will keep for about 1 month at room temperature, 4 months in a refrigerator, and up to 1 year in a freezer.
Pulp the desired amount of strawberries thoroughly, adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar for every cup of fruit. Heat it slightly in order to kill any bacteria or mold that might be present and then spread evenly onto a clean dry tray. Preheating the berries also preserves the color of the fruit as well as aids in the drying process.
To prevent the fruit leather from darkening in color 2 teaspoons of lemon juice can be added to every 2 cups of fruit.
The strawberry puree can be left in the sun, or dried in the oven at 120ºC with the door open. If you are going to sun-dry the fruit, make a tent out of either cheesecloth or mosquito netting to keep the insects out. Make sure that none of the material is in contact with the fruit. Sprinkle with castor sugar when dry and roll up and cut. Store in clean, dry jars.
Mash the required amount of bananas to a mushy pulp. Add a teaspoon lemon juice for every 2 bananas and also some of the finely grated lemon rind. Mix thoroughly and then add a teaspoon or two of honey. A few sprinkles of nutmeg or cinnamon can also be added if desired. Spread this mixture onto a tray and dry in the sun. Store as above.
Boil together 150 ml of water with 500 g sugar until it starts to thread. Add about 1 liter of mashed cherries and boil for a few minutes. Pour this into a tray and leave to sun-dry for a few days. Bring in the mixture at night.
Fruit leathers can make nice homemade gifts for Christmas.
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