Homemade 'Fruit-by-the-Foot'!!

I've always wanted to try making my own fruit leather because it seemed like something that had way too much sugar{and other junk!} for being 'real' fruit. I also love unrolling it. Let's be honest, that's the real reason any of us ever ate Fruit-by-the-Foot. I started thinking about it lately because I've been taking care of my friend's little girl in the evenings and I'm constantly aware of what I'm feeding her, and wanted to give her a healthy treat/snack. It’s so easy these days to grab things off the shelf at the store and keep them in our cupboards for when we don’t have time to make something, but if you have an afternoon you can whip these up and have them for your last minute snack attacks! Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great wholesome products on the market now that are free from all the things we cannot pronounce, however, they tend to be quite costly so it’s always nice to have an option to make it at home and truly know what you are putting in you and your families bodies!

Speaking of cost-effectiveness, I decided to try a batch of these with fresh fruit and a batch with previously frozen fruit to see if the outcome was changed at all. I nearly started to cry thinking of all my beautiful organic strawberries being blended up because they are not cheap! {I feel like Dorothy when it comes to the cost of fresh, in-season, fruits/veggies in New York - ‘Toto, we’re not in LA anymore’} I had a bag of mixed berries in my freezer and I am happy to announce that the outcome was just as good as the batch with fresh fruit, so you needn't cry over blending fresh organic berries to make these at home!

Homemade Fruit-by-the-Foot // Makes 6 {1.5” x 14”} strips

3 cups diced fruit or berries (if using frozen, thaw & drain first)

1 T local honey (optional, depends on the sweetness of your berries!)

*Because this takes a few hours in a low oven, I recommend doubling or tripling the batch, or trying a couple flavors, and baking them all at the same time, using one pan for each batch.

Prepare a half sheet pan by lining it with a silicone mat if you have it - this was the first time using mine as I always bake on parchment and it made it SO easy, however, lining with parchment will work too! Preheat oven to 185 degrees. If the lowest your oven goes is 200, just turn more often and check earlier!

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until mixture becomes a smooth puree and there are no odd-sized fruit chunks. Pour down the center of your prepared pan, leaving a few inches around the edges. Using an offset spatula, smooth the puree into as-even-as-possible layer that reaches to about one inch of the edges. Make the thickness about ⅛” all the way around. Too-thin areas will burn and too-thick areas will take longer, resulting in an uneven batch. If you are making another batch, follow the same process as above for your second pan.

Place sheet pan(s) in oven and set your timer for 1 hour (start at 45 min for hotter ovens); when timer goes off, rotate pan 180 degrees, and top to bottom if making a couple batches. Set timer for another hour. The edges will start to look dry and the center will still be puffy; rotate in the same manner and set for another hour. Rotate again and set for 30 minutes, depending on how your center looks - mine took about 4 hours total. You want the whole sheet to look like the edges, essentially to look like fruit leather - any seeds will be pronounced bumps across the sheet - you want no ‘puffy’ parts remaining as they will stick to the pan and not peel up with the rest of the sheet. Remove from oven and allow pans to cool on wire racks.

Place a piece of parchment that is slightly bigger than the leather in front of the pan, on your counter or table. Once cooled, peel up the sheet of fruit (it’s not delicate, you won’t break or tear it) and place it in the center of the parchment. If the edges cracked a bit, it’s okay, they just got a bit drier than the rest and you can trim that off. Using kitchen shears, trim short edges of parchment to within about ¼” of the fruit. Trim off any ‘crispy’ long edges, making it flush with the parchment. Now just cut them lengthwise into six strips, or more if you want smaller serving sizes for smaller hands. Roll up each piece and store seam-side-down in an airtight container on your counter, as long as it’s not too warm! You can put a cute sticker on it to keep it from unrolling when you pop it in a lunch bag or in your purse for a snack on the go!

Fruit-by-the-foot

There are so many options with this - I made one batch of strawberry/mango and another with blackberry/blueberry/raspberry and they were both so delicious! I think next time I want to try striping a couple flavors so you get two in one with flavor and color! You can also cut each sheet into four large rectangles and have your kids use cookie cutters to make shapes for a fun after-school snack/activity! Whatever you do, make it work for your family and have fun doing it.

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie


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