Strawberry Fruit Leather

**Update: when I originally wrote this post (the morning after I made it) I was feeling a little bit crabby and sleep deprived so I may have sold this recipe short due to the long cook time and minimal yield. However, I ate the entire batch by myself over the course of one weekend, and am obsessed with finding more fruit to create more flavors. If you make this recipe, your general outlook on life will increase dramatically. It’s that delicious.

Yesterday, I posted a recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Gelato, which I made as a solution to my too-many-strawberries situation. But that recipe used only half of my stockpile, so I needed to come up with something else to do. Enter: Food Network Magazine’s Fruit Leather Roll-Ups.

 

There are pros and cons to this recipe and I will start with the cons and then win you over with the pros.

Cons: Five hours and four cups of strawberries for a dozen rolls. Sheesh.

Pros: It’s delicious. Obviously. But more importantly, let’s do a little side by side comparison of the ingredient lists for Fruit Roll Ups and Fruit Leather

Now, I’m not one of those super moms who only shops at Whole Foods (in fact, I’ve never even seen the inside of one) and I can’t get my kid to love (or barely even taste) vegetables. I’m not sure what the difference is between a free-range chicken and a regular-chicken-chicken. I only buy organic if it’s there and I feel like I can afford it that day. Marco eats Spongebob Go-Gurt and the occasional Lunchable like any other kid. I bring this up because I read food and parenting blogs that send the message that you are horrible if you let your kids eat something that isn’t organically grown at a local, free-range farm and then painstakingly prepared by you. And when I read those blogs, I go to bed at night feeling like the worst mom in the world, because I sent Marco to school with JIF and Smuckers on white bread and didn’t pack a bento lunch-box with animal-face themed food.

So, I’m not saying that Fruit Roll-ups are poison and you must make Fruit Leather. All I’m saying  is that if you have an obscene amount of fruit that you need to get rid of, and five hours to kill, this is a fun and tasty thing to try out. And you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying it, because you can pronounce all of the ingredients, unlike their store-bought (and perfectly edible) cousins.

Anyway. Now that the tangent is over:

Strawberry Fruit Leather:

Step 1: Hull and roughly chop 4 cups strawberries. Place them in the basin of a food processor with the juice from 1 small lemon and 3/4 cups of sugar. even with all of that sugar, these taste more tart than sweet. Just something to keep in mind if the added sugar is freaking you out.

Step 2: Puree the sugar and fruit and transfer to a saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium-high heat until it starts to bubble up and reduce heat and let it simmer until it reduces. It took me about an hour to get there.

Step 3: Line a 12 x 17 baking sheet with non stick foil or a silicone mat. Evenly spread your strawberry mix over the sheet in a thin layer. Bake at 200° for 3-3 1/2 hours until the leather is firm and barely tacky.

Step 4:  remove from oven and let cool completely**. Once cool, peel the silicone mat out of the pan and invert onto wax paper, then peel the mat off of the leather. Roll into a log then use kitchen shears to cut into strips. 

**I started this project around…oh… 7:30PM so by the time I pulled this out of the oven I was ready to be done and go to sleep. As a result of my impatience, a whole corner tore.

store in a ziplock bag for up to one week– if they even last that long

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