Most dehydrated fruits give a more satisfying chew when dried in pieces rather than fruit leather. But some fruits, like oranges and berries, don’t make very good snacks when dried and are more delicious when blended with other fruits into fruit leather.
On the other hand, you can turn fruit leather into fruit pudding on the trail by reconstituting it with hot or cold water. Bananas are great to use for fruit leather because they help make a creamy pudding.
Clean, Cut & Blend: Wash fruit and remove cores, pits or large seeds. Leave the skins on or peel if you prefer. Cut fruit into smaller pieces. Combine fruits and optional flavorings in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a splash of water or fruit juice to help the blender get going if necessary.
Optional Flavorings: Fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, sugar, fruit jams, shredded coconut, vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg.
Tips: Go easy on fruit juice or the mixture will be watery and take longer to dry. Fruit juices and sweeteners increase the stickiness of leather. Use extracts like vanilla sparingly in your recipes.
Banana Fruit Leather Recipe:
- 1 banana, ½ lemon, 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 banana, ½ large orange, 1 Tbsp cranberry sauce
- 1 banana, 1 cup pineapple, 2 Tbsp coconut
- 1 banana, 1 apple
- 1 banana, 1 cup blueberries, 1 Tbsp blueberry jam
- 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
You don’t need to cook the fruits above or most other fruits to make fruit leather. But, cooking apples for apples sauce and mangos for mango-banana pudding produces delicious results.
Mango-Banana Leather/Pudding Recipe:
- 1 large mango
- 2 large bananas
- ½ cup water
Cut mango flesh away from pit and peel. Dice into small pieces.
Bring mango and ½ cup of water to a boil in pot. Reduce heat to medium for ten minutes and then to low for another twenty minutes. Turn off stove and let sit another fifteen minutes.
Add chunks of bananas to cooked mango and mash. Put mashed mixture in blender and blend until smooth.
Dehydrating Fruit Leather
Spread thinly, about ⅛ inch thick on non-stick sheets, parchment paper, or fruit leather inserts.
Dry at 135° for 6 – 12 hours depending on the juiciness of the mixture. After about six hours, peel leather off the non-stick sheets and place directly on the mesh trays to expose the bottom to more air circulation.
Fruit leather dries pliable, not brittle. Nevertheless, dry it thoroughly so that it is not sticky on the surface or still holding moisture in any thicker parts. Expect fruit leather with bananas to turn darker in color by the time it dries due to oxidation. This does not affect the flavor or usability.
Yield: 1 large mango and 2 large bananas yield approximately 1½ cups of mango-banana leather. Divide into two servings.
Packing Fruit Leather
Tear fruit leather into pieces and pack in plastic bag separated from other dried ingredients. Vacuum sealing your daily rations for longer trips will keep it from absorbing moisture from the air. The pressure of vacuum sealing may cause fruit leather to stick together but you can still use it. Another way to pack it is to roll half a sheet of leather up with plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to itself. One sheet (Excalibur Dehydrator tray) equals about ¾ cup, so two rolls are perfect for one serving.
Preparing Fruit Pudding on the Trail
Combine fruit or apple sauce leather with an equal quantity of water. ¾ cup each of water and fruit leather is good for one serving, but you will have no problem eating a full cup. If serving cold, soak for ten to fifteen minutes and stir vigorously.
If serving hot, combine with water and heat gently for ten minutes. Three tea light candles under a fry pan lid do a great job of warming fruit puddings. Enjoy for breakfast or as a dessert after lunch or dinner.
Visit BackpackingChef.com for an apple sauce leather recipe and to learn more about dehydrating fruit.