This homemade Fruit Leather recipe is one of my childhood favorites that we used to make every single summer. Made with raw fruit (that's a thing) easy to make, and all you need is a few hot sunny days.
Dried fruit is a sweet treat for the kids that is authentic and less processed than store bought. Therefore it's healthier and a lot of fun to make. A great summer project with your kids. In Russian, we call this Pastila (Пастила). A rustic way to preserve fruit for the winter. Alongside fresh Kompot Juice, it's a great way to use up summer fruit.
What is Fruit Leather?
Pastila Fruit Leather has been a traditionally sun dried fruit puree, in a thin sheet form. In America and Australia, the store bought version is known as a Fruit Roll Up. However, Fruit Roll Ups are very processed and contain very little fruit.
Check the ingredients. There is a brand of Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups that contain ZERO strawberries! So it's just flavored fruit pectin. So I avoid Fruit Roll Ups at all costs.
Homemade Fruit Leather is thicker than the store bought varieties, and made naturally. We often make it with only 2 ingredients, fruit and water. If you add sugar, it will be sweeter, but also makes a stickier fruit leather. There is no need to add anything else! This is a raw, uncooked fruit leather recipe, natural and rustic. You're going to love this recipe!
How to make Fruit Leather in the Sun
We grew up with Apricot trees, and always had more Apricots than we knew what to do with! We would have large plywood sheets setup in the yard on sawhorses, where we would dry fruit. One plywood sheet was for sun drying whole split Apricots (which takes longer) and the other was for making sheets of Apricot Fruit Leather.
If making large quantities, just roll out parchment paper and thinly spread the fruit puree on the paper along the plywood sheet. Check the weather, to ensure you have hot sunny days before starting. Always use the ripest and sweetest Apricots for the best flavor.
We usually make smaller batches now, because I don't have an Apricot tree anymore. This fruit leather recipe makes about 4 large baking sheets, and is ready in 2-3 days. You can make a new batch every few days during Apricot season.
On day 2, the leather should peel off the parchment paper. Flip the fruit over so it dries evenly. On the 3rd day, hang it to air dry on a clothes line. My mom has a long clothesline, which hangs across the yard, covered in drying fruit leather. This helps both sides to air dry in the sun.
Fruit Leather in a Dehydrator
You can make DIY fruit leather in a dehydrator, but I actually prefer an oven! Let's tackle the dehydrator first. There are inserts that you can buy for your dehydrator that allow you to spread the fruit leather the same way as you do when making it in the sun. A dehydrator can take overnight, and it can be faster than the natural outdoor way. Some people like this method, but not everyone has a dehydrator.
I think everyone has an oven though! You can follow this recipe and place it in the oven at the lowest temperature setting, to dry the fruit leather puree that way. I prefer the natural method, outdoors and in the sun! It's more environmentally friendly, and is fun to make.
How to store Fruit Leather
To store the fruit leather, place the fruit leather on a piece of parchment paper and roll up, to prevent from sticking to each other. You can cut into smaller strips for an easy lunch box snack for the kids. It should last several months in a cool dry place, if it lasts that long!
What types of fruit can be used for Fruit Leather?
We most often use Apricots when making fruit leather. My other favorite fruit leather recipe is made with Plums. They are sweet and a bit tart at the same time. You can probably use any high pectin fruits to dry them this way.
Try peaches, plums, nectarines, or even cranberries. Mix in some strawberries, blackberries or cherries for a flavor boost, as these are lower in pectin and will hold their shape better.
Raw Fruit Leather
This is a raw Fruit Leather recipe. It sounds funny, but this fruit in this recipe isn't cooked like other recipes. Some people cook their fresh fruit, which changes the flavor of real fruit leather and unnecessary. People even add apple sauce to fruit leathers. This fruit leather recipe is made with raw pureed fruits and a bit of sugar for sweetness. That's all you need!
The Georgian way of making Fruit Leather is also cooked. It's called Tklapi. Tklapi is often made with plums, peaches, mulberries, pear or even fig. To make Tklapi, cook the fruit and strain through a fine sieve. Cook again for another 45 minutes adding a bit of sugar and lemon juice. Dry it the same was as Fruit Leather, except Tklapi is thinner and smoother.
This Russian Pastila recipe (Пастила), shouldn't be confused with the Russian confectionary by the same name. Pastila the dessert is also a sweet pressed fruit paste in squares, popular since the 16th century. Both are made with fruit, but I have no idea why they are called by the same name. Probably because both recipes preserve sweet fruits.
Check Out My Favorite Apricot Recipes
- Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken Made With Real Apricots
- Apricot Jam Slice
- Sochi Central Markets and their Dried Fruits
There are many ways to dry fruit. A perfect way to preserve your bumper fruit harvest to enjoy in the winter months. Some people use a dehydrator, others dry in the oven. Nothing beats the natural sunshine that God gave us, and the price is right too! Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Sun Dried Fruit Leather (Пастила)
- 7 lbs /3.5kg ripe apricots
- ½ cup sugar optional
- Rinse the apricots and remove the seeds.
- Using a blender or food processor, process the apricots until they are a smooth puree. Using a blender, I put about 6 cups of apricots and about ¼ of water to process the fruit. You want to use as little as water as possible. Repeat until all fruit is used.
- If necessary, mix sugar into the fruit puree.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the fruit leather puree in a thin layer. It should around ⅛" to ¼" thick. It will shrink thinner as it dries. Place into the sunshine on a hot day. Bring in the fruit leather overnight and return again in the morning into the sunshine. It will take around 2-3 days to fully dry.
- On day 2, the fruit leather should peel off the parchment paper. Flip the fruit leather over so it dries evenly. On the 3rd day, I hang the fruit leather to air dry on a clothes line.
- To store the fruit leather, place the fruit leather on a piece of parchment paper and roll up, to prevent from sticking to each other. It should last several months in a cool dry place. (If your kids don't eat it first!)