Commercial fruit leathers roll out of factories by the yard so you might think that such a modern creation is beyond the means of the home cook. But it’s actually amazingly quick and easy to make an all-natural fruit leather that is a tasty, healthful and highly portable snack for the lunch box or backpack.
And you can use the same technique to create savory vegetable leathers that add interesting, modern touches to traditional dishes.
All you need to make your own leather is a blender, an oven and about 20 minutes of prep time. Edible leathers do need one to three hours to dehydrate – the thicker the layer of purée, the longer it takes to dry.
Sweet Raspberry Leather
2 cups raspberries
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/4 cup sugar
3/16 teaspoon xanthan gum
Arrange an 11-by-17-inch nonstick silicone mat on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat a food dehydrator to 150 degrees, or set your oven to its lowest temperature.
Combine all ingredients in a blender, then purée until thoroughly blended, at least 30 seconds. Working quickly, pour the purée onto the mat and use an offset spatula or other long, flat utensil to spread it into an even layer 1/16 -inch thick. If the purée sits too long in the blender it may set into a custard-like gel; if that happens, blend it again until it becomes fluid enough that you can spread it easily across the mat.
Place the baking sheet in the dehydrator or oven, and dry until leathery and tacky to the touch. A drying time of 1 1/2 to 2 hours is typical, but the time required can vary considerably depending on the thickness and wetness of the purée layer, the temperature of the chamber and the humidity of the air. Use the convection setting on your oven if one is available.
When the leather is done, peel it gently from the mat, and use scissors to trim it to individual serving sizes; for use as a garnish, cut it into long, thin strips. To store the leather pieces, roll them individually in waxed paper and then in plastic wrap. The leather will keep for a week when packaged this way.