Fix Me A Snack

A blog created by a mom who got sick of feeding her kids crackers and ice cream

Belltown Hill Orchards in Glastonbury, Connecticut grows a plum called Methley. It is my favorite plum. I use it to make some very tasty vanilla plum jam. When I’ve used up my energy making jam, I turn to my dehydrator and 12 hours later we have chewy little morsels that are sweet as well as a bit sour. They are heaven.

The best part is that the fruit does not need to be peeled. I just cut out the pit, and chop the plum into quarters.

Next, they are lined up on the tray and dehydrated for about 12 hours at 135 degrees.

They taste like candy. Really good candy that is all natural and perfectly delicious. Finding homemade snacks that taste as good as, if not better than, chemical-laden grocery store goodies always feels like a tiny victory for my family.

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Try your best to share.

They will keep for months if they are properly dried.

To know Belltown Hill Orchards is to love the back corner of their farm store. During the summer, the shelves are loaded with baskets full of seconds that are a fraction of the usual price. The greedy home preserver in me always opts to get too much while visions of tarts and jams dance in my head.

Fresh nectarines are one of my favorites. They are easily my favorite stone fruit. All the brilliant sweetness of a peach without the medical aftertaste or the too-thick fuzzy skin.

Drying nectarines is super easy. The key is to cut along the crease and twist the fruit away from the pit. Slice, arrange on a tray, and dehydrate for 8 to 12 hours.

Store in an airtight container. Nibble on them in the dead of winter. Smile.

The sad specimen pictured above is the result of one of my first attempts at jam. Apparently, I was going for broke with my first batch because I always manage to find another jar of it in the cupboard even when I thought I finally used it all up.

I remember that the jam recipe was pretty high in sugar (like most traditional jam recipes). After this batch I started using Ponoma’s Universal Pectin. In addition to the oxidization (browning on the top), the jam never really set so it’s more of a thick sauce. It’s great for yogurt, but I needed more than one way to use up all the jars we have. So I made some fruit leather. And even though my kids are probably going to have a mouth full of cavities the next time they go to the dentist, I still love this snack because it is easy easy easy.

I still have about six jars of this stuff. I’m all ears if you have any other ideas for using it up.

Homemade Jammy Fruit Leather Recipe

3 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 pint of jam (scant 2 cups)

Mix the applesauce and jam together in a medium bowl until well blended. Divide between three 15-inch square dehydrator trays lined with lightly-greased plastic sheets. Spread the mixture over the sheet to about 1/4-inch thickness. My favorite tool for this job is a large offset spatula. Run your dehydrator according to the manufactuer’s directions. Mine was set to about 135 degrees Farhienheit for about 10 hours.

When it is done, the leather may be slightly tacky, but should not be gooey or sticky. Peel the leather off of the liners. Slice into desired widths and roll up with wax paper. Store in an airtight container. They should last for a couple months, if not longer, as long as they have been dried out properly.

Note: If you’d rather use your oven, a good looking tutorial/recipe can be found at Simply Recipes – How To Make Fruit Leather.

Yield: 18 3-inch wide strips
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Drying-time: 10 hours

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Who wants to place a bet on how soon my kids are going to get a cavity? I can’t stop making dried fruit purees this year and it is going to be my downfall.

Well, que sera sera. Frankly, not a bad way to go.

Dehydrated fruit purees I’ve posted about already such as the Strawberry Roll Ups and the Polka Dot Roll Ups contain very small amounts, if any, added sugar. For this reason, they are thinner and a little more brittle than traditional fruit leather. When fruit puree is loaded up with sugar the finished product is thicker and more flexible.

Turns out it doesn’t take gobs of honey to make thick fruit leather, just a 1/4 cup is necessary for this recipe. It’s not super sweet like grocery store fruit leather. I think it’s just right. 

1 pint fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat the blueberries and water in a medium saucepan over med high heat until it comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the mixture is at a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove saucepan from heat and add the honey, applesauce, and lemon juice. Puree the mixture with a hand/immersion or regular blender until smooth.

Prepare a 15 x15-inch dehydrator tray with a lightly greased liner. Pour the blueberry mixture onto the middle of the lined tray and spread it out evenly with a large offset spatula or a spoon until it is 1/3-inch thick. It should be an approximately 12 x 12-inch square. Having the outside edges thicker is fine as they tend to dry more quickly.

Insert the tray into the dehydrator and set the temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Run the dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours. The finished fruit leather may have a couple sticky spots on the surface, but for the most part it should be dried yet pliable.

Remove the fruit leather from the tray. Cut with a knife or scissors into individual servings. Wrap pieces in wax paper. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 10 pieces
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Drying-time: 8 – 10 hours

All we have here is dehydrated applesauce, blackberry puree, and peach puree. And I’m hoping that it will make the my second grader’s classmates green with envy.

Darianne commented on my Homemade Strawberry Fruit Rolls Ups post that her kid is less than happy with the lack of stamped images on her homemade fruit roll ups. It got me thinking.  And I have rapidly ripening fresh local produce coming out of my ears right now. With Darianne’s kid in mind, we made a fruit roll up that kicks it up a notch. Who can say no to polka dots? Or better yet, fruit leather they’ve decorated themselves?

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
Fresh blackberry sauce
Fresh peach sauce

Spread applesauce out onto a lightly greased lined dehydrator tray to 1/4-inch thickness. I find a large offset spatula works well, but if you don’t have one spread the applesauce out evenly as best you can with the back of a spoon. “Decorate” the applesauce with the blackberry and peach sauces using separate plastic squeeze bottles.

Place the prepared tray in the dehydrator and set the machine to 135 degrees Farhient. Run the dehydrator for 4 hours or more until the fruit leather is no longer tacky and completely dry. The amount of time necessary depends on the thickness and amount of sugar in the fruit.

Remove the fruit leather from the tray and cut into approximately 2-inch wide strips. Store rolled up in wax paper in an airtight container. Should keep for weeks, if not months.

Yield: 1 12-inch square sheet (4 or 5 rolls)
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Dehydrating-time: 4 hours or more

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I’ve seen plenty of recipes for fruit leather using very low temperatures in a traditional oven. But I freed myself from having to fool around with that when I bought myself a refurbished food dehydrator for Mother’s Day a couple years ago.

I find myself using the machine more during the summer and the fall when we are suddenly surrounded by fresh local produce. And since we’re on the go so much more during the summer, I’m sure we’ll have no problem using up whatever I can find time to make.

There is a great deal of flexibility in this recipe. I’ve used all different kinds of berries along with the applesauce.

2 cups unsweetened applesauce, preferably organic*
1 pint fresh strawberries, preferably organic*

Lightly grease two dehydrator tray liners and place them on trays. (My trays are 15-inches square. You may need more or less trays if your machine isn’t a similar size.) Set aside.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Combine strawberries and applesauce in a medium mixing bowl. Puree the mixture with an immersion/hand blender until smooth.

Transfer half of the mixture to each prepared tray and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. A large offset spatula might do an even better job of spreading.

Place trays in dehydrator for 4-20 hours depending on the machine, thickness of puree, etc. Set temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine only takes about 5 hours at this temperature. Rotate the trays a couple times if you think of it.

When the puree has dried completely (I always seem to have one stubborn thick spot.) remove it from the tray and cut it into 2-inch wide strips. Layer strips with wax paper and store in an airtight bag or container. The roll ups, if completely dry, will keep for months.

Yield: 13 2 x 12-inch strips
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Dehydration-time: 4-20 hours

*Note: I encourage using organic ingredients in this recipe because the food, along with any pesticides it may contain, is concentrated by the process of dehydration. At least, that’s what I read somewhere once. I’m not entirely sure if it’s really an issue.