Dan and I love fruit roll ups and fruit leathers, but we really do not like their steep price tag. One of the reasons we bought the dehydrator last year was the possibility of making fruit leathers at home at a much cheaper price point. Yesterday was my first stab at making them in our dehydrator. Let me just tell you, it was so easy, I think we will be buying more leather trays for the dehydrator so that I can make more leather each time we hook up the dehydrator.
I tried my hand at both plain apple as well as apricot fruit leather. The plain apple was easy, and the apricot was just as easy to make. I peeled and cored the apples as well as cut them into some smaller pieces. They then went into the blender. I added a tiny bit of all natural apple juice into the blender to help it get started. Then, I blended the apples until they were a smooth, baby food like consistency. I found it easiest to start with a small amount of apples in the blender and then add to that amount and blend again. This seemed to be better than packing too much into the blender on the first try. I found myself having to stop and stir much more when I over packed the blender.
Once the apples were blended, I poured the puree onto a fruit leather sheet. Two important things were learned here. Make sure your leather sheets are already placed on the trays before filling them with puree. Although I did not make this mistake, I could tell that the puree would be everywhere when trying to transplant the flimsy try into the more sturdy drying rack. The second thing I learned is that putting a thin coating of oil onto the fruit leather sheet is a must. I forgot to do this with the first set of leather, and it is quite stuck down onto the sheet. The second one that I did remember to oil peels up quite easily.
Once I had one tray loaded with plain apple, I tossed in the pitted and cut apricot pieces into the blender along with some more peeled sliced apples for their pectin content. For the apricots, I left their skin on, and it seemed to add a nice texture to the puree. I placed that on the sheet and both went into the dehydrator. In the end they look like this picture here. I did over dry them a bit as I forgot to tell Dan to check them when he got home from work versus me shutting them off when I got home late that night from the dance studio. These first ones seem to have the texture of store bought fruit roll ups rather than a fruit leather, but hey I am not complaining. I love both kinds of dried fruits. I can see this is going to become a new habit around here, and I hope that the dehydrator and blender can keep up with our demand.