It’s summer, which means a bounty of fruit everywhere. I’ve developed a taste for fruit later in life, but at this point I’m a veritable berry fiend, and I’m warming up quite a bit to cantaloupe, honeydew melons, and mangos, too. Step by step — it’s always exciting when taste buds evolve!
The nice thing about fruit is that it’s an easy, satisfying snack or dessert at any time of day. The downside is that, if you’re not careful, fruit can shift from ripe to overripe under your nose. Berries, even when you store them well, can quickly become mushy; mangos and bananas develop spots overnight. Sometimes, if fruit is just overripe but still quite edible, I’ll just blend it up into a smoothie, but as of today, I have a new solution: homemade, raw vegan fruit leathers. That it’s taken me this long to make them is kind of ridiculous, but now I have, and there’s no turning back.
It’s amazing how easy it is to make fruit leathers at home: simply blend up any of your favorite fruits with a tablespoon of ground chia or flax, and you’re on your way. The only thing to watch out for is consistency. Using a very watery fruit, like melon, can get tricky, so try to blend it with something denser, like mango or banana. You can also add some dried fruits to thicken up a mixture (as in my blueberry + goji blend, below).
To make fruit leathers, you’ll need a dehydrator that’s rectangular or square, and can accommodate Teflex sheets. But if you have a round dehydrator (like the Ronco I used to own), you could try your hand at using parchment paper that you’ve cut into a circular shape; I used to do this all the time for crackers!
My first few forays into fruit leather making were simple: an all banana and strawberry banana blend. I decided to get a little more creative after that, and created a blueberry and goji mix that’s packed with antioxidants, and has a deep, sweet/tart flavor. I’m sure that many other varieties are in my future; I also can’t wait to experiment with adding cacao powder, cinnamon, and other flavorings. But for now, simple is best.
After you blend up your fruit and chia or flax, you’ll want to spread the mixture out onto your Teflex-lined dehydrator tray. (An inverted spatula is great for this, by the way, and all dehydrator projects.)
Don’t spread it too thin; if you do, you’ll end up with holes after you dehydrate it all. I’d say just shy of a quarter inch is good; here’s a visual for you:
After that, 6 or so hours in the dehydrator, and you’re set. Here are the recipes.
Once your fruit leathers are done, you can wrap them up using parchment or wax paper.
This keeps them from getting stuck to each other as you store them. I use parchment (there’s always plenty in my kitchen) and then place them in a Ziploc bag and store them in the fridge. They last a good long time–much longer than it’ll take you to enjoy them 🙂
See? Easy. I tend to make a very large fruit leather with each recipe, then cut it into smaller pieces as needed, but you could also try spreading your mixture into smaller circles before you dehydrate. It’s really up to you.
Look at the beautiful blueberry goji color — you’d think I’d used blackberries!
Any questions? Let me know. I hope you enjoy making these at home. Tomorrow, another use for delicious summer berries…so stay tuned!