Tired of having to read labels on fruit roll-ups/fruit leathers at the grocery? Do artificial flavors and colors, high fructose corn syrup, and a high price make you put the product back on the shelf? Don’t despair! Make your own healthy homemade fruit roll-ups with just about any fruit. It’s easy, rewarding and a good lesson in how to dehydrate food. The bonus? The whole family will love them!
I started making homemade fruit roll-ups when my boys were little. We were growing strawberries organically and I made strawberry fruit roll-ups with the berries that were not nice enough to sell. We did the same thing with the abundance of apples from our orchard. The roll-ups dehydrated nicely on the tin roof of the old chicken coop.
Now another generation in our family is enjoying my homemade fruit roll-ups. My grandkids say my homemade fruit roll-ups are better than store bought. And they are!
What Kind of Fruit is Best for Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups?
- Select ripe or even slightly overripe fruit. Wash fresh fruit in cool water.
- Just about any fruit that can be puréed can be used to make fruit roll-ups. Try fresh berries, apples, bananas, pears, and peaches — whatever is ripe and suits your fancy.
- Berries usually don’t have to be cut up unless they’re large. I don’t cook strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.
- Other fruits, such as apples, pears, and peaches are best peeled, seeded, chunked up, and cooked until soft before puréeing. If you choose not to peel, some flecks of peel may show in the roll-ups.
- Unsweetened frozen fruit, thawed and drained well can be used.
- Canned fruit in natural juices, drained well, works, too.
- Since frozen fruit has already been blanched, and canned fruit already cooked, there is no need to cook either to soften. Simply purée, sweeten to taste, and use your favorite method to dehydrate the roll-ups.
Master Recipes for Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups
There’s no hard and fast rule for making fruit roll-ups. Use these recipes as a guide.
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups with Berries
- Enough berries to make 3 cups purée (1-1/2 quarts yields about 3 cups puréed.)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Sweetener (optional): Honey, sugar, stevia, or your choice, to taste
- Purée raw berries until smooth.
- If desired, strain to remove seeds. (I don’t do this, as seeds are good insoluble fiber.)
- Stir in lemon juice and sweeten to taste.
- Pour into a sprayed 13 x 15 baking sheet with sides, or two smaller ones, to the depth of 1/8″ to 1/4” thick.
Homemade Banana Fruit Roll-Ups
These roll-ups are so easy. Follow the instructions for berries, but increase lemon juice to three tablespoons.
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups with Apples or Pears
Always remove seeds from apples or pears. I find that fruits like apples and pears benefit from a little cooking to soften them.
- Enough fruit to make 3 cups purée (It’s hard to tell how much cut up raw fruit you need here, but start with 1-1/2 quarts.)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Water if necessary
- Peel if desired, remove seeds and stems from fruit and chunk up into small pieces.
- Put into pan and stir in lemon juice and a tiny bit of water if necessary to keep fruit from sticking.
- Cook over low heat. As fruit softens, mash with potato masher to speed things along.
- Purée fruit until smooth.
- Pour into a sprayed 13 x 15 baking sheet with sides to the depth of about 1/4” thick.
- Sprinkle a little cinnamon into the apple or pear purée. Or make a batch of cinnamon cider applesauce. Purée it and use that as the fruit roll-up base. It may take a little longer to dry.
- Add a little vanilla to apple or pear purée.
Tip: Thicker Edges, Better Roll-Ups
I usually make the edges thicker than the middle because the roll-ups dry from the outside in and by the time the middle is dry, the edges tend to be a bit crisp.
How To Dehydrate in the Sun
- Place your baking sheet in a sunny, safe place. Place a screen on top to discourage insects. Bring in at night or if it rains.
- Check progress after two days. Roll-ups won’t be completely dry but will have started to dry from the outside edge into the center. Depending on the weather, count on three to four days for roll-ups to dry completely.
To Dehydrate in the Oven
- The best temperature is between 140 and 170 degrees.
- Check progress after three hours. It may take four to six hours depending on the type and thickness of the purée and the temperature of the oven.
To Dehydrate in the Dehydrator
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions. In my dehydrator, it usually takes about six hours for the roll-ups to dry.
What to Do When the Roll-Ups Are Completely Dry
You’ll know your roll-ups are completely dry when the middle is not tacky and you’re able to pull the roll-up gently away in one piece. Trim, then store.
How to Trim and Store
- Trim the edges and roll up in one piece.
- Trim the edges, cut into one-inch wide strips. Then roll up.
- Trim the edges. Place the whole sheet of roll-ups on a piece of parchment paper, nonstick foil, or plastic wrap. Roll up jelly-roll style and cut into one-inch wide strips. That way, when you unroll them, they won’t stick together.
- Store in covered containers at room temperature for two weeks, in the refrigerator for two months, or in the freezer for up to six months.
Have you made fruit roll-ups? What is your favorite?