Fruit leather is one of the great snack candies of childhood — how well we all remember the sound of it pulling away from the plastic, the sweet-tart flavor, and the chewy, sticky texture. It’s delightful to eat it again as a grown-up, especially when it’s made from a pint or so of fresh California strawberries.
It’s such a fun project. We whirled the berries up with a little sugar, creating a bright pink purée. It boiled and bubbled on the back of the stove for nearly an hour. During that time, the purée thickened and its color deepened so that it was a beautiful, ruby red gel by the time we spread it over the Silpat and slid it into the warm oven. A few hours later, it emerged a little tacky — but not flypaper sticky — and then it cooled into the leathery treat we all know and love (only much, much better).
First of all, the presentation is gourmet. We rolled our fruit leather up in white parchment paper and tied it with a kitchen-twine bow. It feels like a gift. Second, it tastes divine. There’s so much intense, jammy, strawberry flavor packed into these little bundles.
Admittedly, it was hard to share them with our kids, but of course they loved them, and we felt great about tucking a homemade, fruit leather roll-up in their lunchboxes. No corn syrup, no palm oil, no coloring, no additives — just fruit and sugar.
Our tip: If your kids like to cook, this is a great afternoon project. There are buttons to push, berries to stir, and fruit leather scrolls to roll. And of course, the stunning transformation of berries to leather is a fun kitchen science experiment.
Servings: 8 to 10
1 ½ lb strawberries, halved
¾ cup granulated sugar
Nonstick bakeware liner such as a Silpat measuring 12 x 17 inches
Large offset spatula
Preheat the oven to 200° with a rack in the middle. Line a large baking sheet with a nonstick liner.
In a blender, purée the strawberries and sugar until smooth, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large, heavy saucepan.
Bring the purée to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward the end), until the mixture is thick enough to mound slightly, is a deep red color, and is reduced to 1 to 1 ¼ cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Pour the hot purée onto the liner and use a rubber spatula to spread it as thinly and evenly as possible into a rectangle measuring 10 x 15 inches.
Dry the purée in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. It will still be tacky, but it shouldn’t stick to your fingers.
Keeping the strawberry leather on the liner, cool it on a rack until completely dry, at least 3 hours and up to 24.
Place a sheet of parchment paper over the leather, and then peel the leather off the liner. Using a knife, cut the leather into individual servings, roll them up in parchment, and tie them with kitchen twine, if desired.
Strawberry leather will keep in a sealed bag at room temperature for 1 month.
Recipe source: Epicurious