Applesauce Fruit Leather 

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This time of year, when canning season is just beginning, is a great time to inventory what you have left in your pantry from last season. In my inventory one thing I noticed that I still had a lot of was applesauce. I haven’t been cooking with it as much as I thought I would, and I just don’t eat it plain often either. I also had a couple flavoured applesauces that friends gave me, including a blackberry one and a cinnamon one (made with cinnamon candy I think).


So, I decided to repurpose it as fruit leather. I really enjoyed snacking on strawberry fruit leather last summer in the field, so thought I’d free up some spaces in the pantry and dry a few jars of applesauce.

I spread the applesauce out on my fruit leather trays and dried it at 135 F in my dehydrator. 12 oz was about perfect for one tray; I needed to mix a little extra into the 8 oz jar to cover the whole tray.

Here’s the plain applesauce.

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Cinnamon applesauce.

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Blackberry applesauce.

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I love making this just before I go to bed, because it takes at least 8 hours with a full dehydrator.  It’s nice to just wake up and it’s almost done! After 8 – 10 hours you have fruit leather! The publication says 4-8 hours, but I’m thinking 4 must be with one tray, using their precooked method. You know it’s done when there are no wet spots and peels off but still it’s still slightly tacky. Maybe try it during the day for the first time, but I’ve got the timing down well in my dehydrator and can wake up and it’s done 🙂

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After it is dry, peel it off the trays. If you are having trouble getting it started, I find slipping a butter knife under works well.

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Roll it up and store! You can store a whole sheet, or cut it into smaller pieces. You can roll it up with plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to itself, but I don’t really like using all that plastic wrap so I usually just deal with a few stuck together pieces.

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So beautiful! For more ideas check out the OSU extension publication linked to below.

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Used for this project:
Nesco dehydrator
Extra trays
Fruit leather publication

Master Food Preserver Class – Week 6

I was a little sad that by week 6 of my Master Food Preserver class we were done with canning. Maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to write this post 😉 But actually, I learned a lot about dehydrating fruits and vegetables, which was great because it is something I have a little less experience with doing at home.  Some of the fun things we either made in class or they had for demos are pictured below. From left to right we have: figs, green beans, tomatillos, canned apples that were dried, strawberries, zucchini, and regular apples.


One awesome thing about dehydrating is there are not too many safety concerns, as with canning. Things are more flexible, such as how large you want to cut pieces of food and how long you want to dry them. Now they should be sufficiently dry, but there is still a bit of flexibility there. Microorganisms and enzymes require water, so when you dehydrate food, you make conditions that are not favourable for food spoilage. It has been shown that pathogens can survive the food drying process, but there are actually no documented cases of people becoming ill from home dried foods, so it is a pretty safe preservation technique. You can also pretreat fruits with either an acid solution (citric or ascorbic acid), or sodium metabisulfite, and blanch vegetables to reduce this risk even further. Also, let’s keep meat in the back of our heads as a side note. Today I’m referring to drying fruits and veggies, and week 7 we talked more about drying meats, which have a couple safety steps that you need to remember.

Fruits and veggies can be dried using a dehydrator, your oven, solar dehydrators, or many things like herbs can simply be air dried. Commercial dehydrators, like this one which I have, can be a worthwhile investment if you are going to do a lot of drying. Using your oven often creates a lower quality product, partially because ovens are not really designed for the low temperatures at which you normally would dry things. The oven will also take longer and use more energy than a dehydrator.

Here are a few things we made in class.


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And what they look like after they’ve been dried. Janice described them as a tart, sweet surprise. Perfect description!


So how does the nutrition of dried foods compare to fresh? One of the things that does become diminished in drying is the vitamin C, and this is because it is a water soluble vitamin, and drying eliminates much of the water content of the food. Doing pretreatments of fruit, such as the ascorbic acid dip, helps to reduce nutrient loss, preserves colour and flavour and increases the quality and storage life of dried foods. As an example of these pretreatments, fruits can be dipped for 10 minutes into pure pineapple, orange or lemon juice, or a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart of water. To destroy more of the pathogens and be extra safe, this can be increased to 8 teaspoons of ascorbic acid per quart of water. Be sure not to over soak the foods, or nutrients can end up being lost, and drying time will increase. For many vegetables, you should blanch as a pretreatment, just like when freezing, to destroy enzymes. Different vegetables should be blanched for differing amounts of time, but in general they should remain firm but still be tender. That can be hard to gauge, so look up blanching times and other awesome information in this great extension service publication found here

One of my favourite ways to dehydrate is by making fruit leather, such as this strawberry fruit leather I posted recently. Fruit leathers have a few advantages. First, I love the reduced amount of chopping. Slicing strawberries, like pictured above, and drying those, is a heck of a lot more effort than pureeing in a blender and pouring on a tray. You do need the extra trays, however, but I think they are worth the investment. I prefer the texture somewhat as well, because fruit leathers are done when they are still a bit tacky, and not brittle.

In class we made “pizza leather” which is 15oz of stewed tomatoes, 8 oz of tomato sauce, and dried herbs on top. It is a pretty tasty snack.

Spreading tomato sauce out for the pizza leather.

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And once it is done. I think it would be delicious slapped on a toasted English muffin with some mozzarella cheese. mmmmmm.

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Vegetables can be great to dehydrate to later use in things like soups. For these, we pretreated the celery by blanching for about a minute, but we did not treat the zucchini or onions.

When you want to use dehydrated vegetables, some times you will want to rehydrate them first. Soak them in 1.5-2 cups of water per cup of dried vegetables, and add more if needed. They should plump to the size before they were dehydrated. They can also just be put straight into soup or stew and rehydrate in the broth.

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Zucchini chips are a great way to use up excess zucchini. You know that you will be rolling in it soon! My first one is about ready to harvest.

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Dried green beans. Yup, just randomly inserted here because they were pretty.


Dried foods should be stored in air tight, food grade storage containers. Canning jars are pretty great for this if you already have a lot on hand. Some times though, little critters can still get in there. Ewwww. Obviously, discard something this nasty.

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And finally, our bounty of dried foods. It’s crazy how much things shrivel down. OK, now I am hungry. Time for some lunch.

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Strawberry Fruit Leather

Lately in the field I have been eating basically peanut butter and jam sandwiches and granola bars, so I needed some new snacks to mix it up a bit. With strawberry season in full force, this strawberry fruit leather did just the trick. All I did for this leather was puree strawberries in a blender. No added sugar, no added nothing. You can certainly sweeten to taste with a bit of sugar or honey if you like, but I don’t really think it’s necessary.

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How to make it! First, wash, hull and puree the berries.

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Pour the puree onto the fruit leather trays. Unfortunately most dehydrators come with either none or one of the fruit leather trays. But they aren’t too expensive, so I bought 4 more.

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Deydrate the fruit leather at 135-140F. My manual says it should take 4 – 8 hours. I’ve done a couple batches now with 5 full trays and it took about 8 – 10 hours. The only real issue I had was a bit of cracking. Around the crack I had a bit of “case hardening,” which is when you get the outer layer drying, but the middle is still wet. I just kind of punctured it and smeared it into the crack. I think this could be avoided by not pouring such a quite thick layer of puree. Perhaps.

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Almost dry but a titch cracked.

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You can tell that it’s done when it is a bit tacky still and not yet brittle. Watch carefully when it is almost done so that you don’t over cook it. It will also be a little more brittle once it cools, so if it seems nearly done it might be, so cool it and check that it’s ready. Once it’s ready, tear it or cut it into pieces. Deeeelish.

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Store in a plastic bag or whatever you like at room temperature. It will keep quite a while, but I bet you will gobble it up pretty quickly.

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Cranberry Fruit Leather

For anyone who read the cranberry juice post and was wondering, “did she just throw out the cranberries?” Here is your answer: no! I made fruit leather!

Step one: blend the leftover cranberries with a little water. This can of course be made of other pureed fruits and berries as well – be adventurous!! You can add a little sweetener if you like too.


Grease a fruit leather tray a little and pour on the fruit puree.


Place in the dehydrator at 135F for 4 or so hours (until it is dry enough to lift up but still a little tacky to the touch).


This example is a little overdone but still tasty, check it frequently when it’s near done. Peel off pieces and eat! So tasty!