When we got very serious about battling our out-of-control food-allergy grocery budget last year, one of the first areas we tackled was waste. The amount of food we were composting due to last-minute “I just got home from work and have no idea what we’re eating tonight”-itis and general lack of meal planning and knowledge of our fridge contents was horrifying.
Nowadays we plan most meals a week in advance, and we regularly check our fridge for items on the verge of a food breakdown. So when I noticed we had a lot of slightly sad-looking wrinkly mangoes, an overripe pineapple, a squishy pear and a mushy apple… I got out my food processor and instituted Operation Overripe Fruit Rescue.
The allergy challenge: Finding affordable dried fruit and fruit snacks that aren’t contaminated with nuts or our other allergens is nigh-impossible. Time to DIY…
The allergy-free hypothesis: All the fruit rollup recipes I’d made before were packed with sugar. But does homemade fruit leather really need all that added sweetener?
The verdict: Nope. My overripe-fruit-rescue leather came out lovely, tacky and delicious, and just sweet enough. Half the batch was gone within minutes.
Spread it out on a silicone baking mat (I have a Silpat) … I believe parchment paper should also work here, though I haven’t tried it.
You want it thin, but not too thin (or it will crumble and flake, trust me). Maybe a bit more than 1/8″ thick.
Stick in the oven at your lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees F) for 3-5 hours—check on regularly to make sure it hasn’t dried out too much. You want it dry but still pliable and just a bit tacky.
Now comes the fun part! Peel it…
Cut into strips with a pizza cutter or knife and you are DONE. Theoretically you could roll these up with wax paper for fruit rollups, but they never last long enough in our house for that.
- Roughly 4-6 cups of fruit chunks, preferably on the ripe side for natural sweetness (I used 3 mangoes, ½ a pineapple, 1 pear and 1 apple, but berries or plain apples are great too)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Toss chunks of (overripe) fruit in your food processor or blender. (If your processor is small like mine, you may need to work in batches).
- Pulse to a puree (no big chunks, but little ones are fine).
- Cook down in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat until very thick and jammy (10-20 minutes).
- Pour mixture out onto two baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Spread thinly with a spatula. You want it thin, but not too thin (or it will crumble and flake, trust me). Maybe a bit more than ⅛″ thick.
- Stick in the oven at your lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees F) for 3-5 hours—check on regularly to make sure it hasn’t dried out too much. You want it dry but still pliable and just a bit tacky.
- Now comes the fun part! Peel it back from the mat or parchment paper...
- Cut into strips with a pizza cutter or knife and you are DONE.
- Theoretically you could roll these up with wax paper for fruit rollups, but they never last long enough in our house for that.
By the way, this technique is hardly limited to mangoes and pineapples. I’ve also had good luck with berries (I used frozen mixed organic berries), pears, and just plain old apples. Here’s the Instagram evidence:
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