It’s Valentine’s Day The Stout Sprout style. Those of you who have been following us for a bit know that this winter has been one for the history books. We had another record snowfall event this week, which meant another snow day, which meant we had two lovely little ladies kicking around the house ready to wreak havoc.
We channeled that energy into cooking something special for Valentine’s Day: our own homemade fruit leather, aka fruit roll-ups. This is definitely one of those recipes you should try on a day when you’ve got extra and abundant time, though it is incredibly easy and kid-friendly. The ingredient list is short, the participation factor is high, and the results are delicious. It does take quite a few hours in a low-temperature oven so be warned: best to start this project in the morning if you want to be nibbling fruit roll-ups for dessert.
Considering the amount of snow, sleet and ice descending from the sky on Thursday it was oh-so-pleasant to cut up a bunch of fruit with the girls. Made the kitchen smell almost tropical. We even had a little fun along the way with our mangos and strawberries — the two fruits from a selection of many that Daughter 1 and Daughter 2 chose for this experiment. They both made the most of slicing, and eating, the ingredients. One for me, one for the bowl. Two for me, one for the bowl. (Note to self: next time, buy extra fruit!)
We started with a fruit leather recipe on the Food Network site and altered it by reducing the amount of sugar and giving it other Stout Sprout touches. Our combination of fruits and flavors is unique to our kitchen and I encourage you to try combinations using the fruit you have on hand and flavors you most enjoy. When the fruit leather finished drying and cooling we used a heart cookie cutter and scissors to cut some of our leather into hearts for Valentine’s Day lunch boxes. I know — awww, how cute.
This particular fruit combo was appropriately pink, for my little Valentines. The next batch we make will be pears and ginger (a whole teaspoon of ginger, I think), with maybe a dash of cayenne to dial up the heat if The Stout Sprouts will let me add it. I honestly can’t wait to try that version, though this mango-strawberry combo will be hard to beat.
Get cooking people! Valentine’s Day is almost over…although the way things are going here in New Jersey, there may be several more snow days this year during which you’ll have time to make your own batch of fruit roll-ups. And eat your own fruit roll-ups, which is the most important part anyway.
Homemade Mango-Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
1 and 1/2 pounds peeled and cut fruit – we used equal amounts of mango and strawberries, but you can use any fruit combination you like
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely diced fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line an 11″ x 17″ baking sheet with a silicone mat (Silpat) or non-stick aluminum foil. Set aside.
Puree the fruit in a blender at the highest speed with the lemon juice, sugar and ginger until extremely smooth. Transfer the purée to a deep-sided sauce pan and bring to a medium simmer, stirring occasionally at first and more often as the purée reduces. Allow the purée to cook for between 30 and 45 minutes, or until it is quite thick and most of the moisture has evaporated. It will splatter and is quite hot so have an adult oversee this part of the recipe.
Pour the reduced purée onto the lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly across the silicone mat using an offset spatula. It is important to get as even a layer as possible. If it is thicker in the center, the center will take much longer to dry and the edges will be crackly fruit candy, not fruit leather.
Place the baking sheet into the oven for a minimum of 3 hours. If there is a tricky part, it’s this: drying the fruit leather can take anywhere between 3 and 6 hours. Check periodically to see whether your fruit leather is drying evenly. If the corners look like they are becoming too dry, remove from the oven. You’re looking for something pliable, but not so dry that it becomes crisp. When your fruit leather is done, remove it from the oven, allow to cool, and remove it from the mat or aluminum foil onto a cutting board. Trim it into 2 inch strips using scissors or a pizza cutter, and cut those strips in half for a manageable portion sizes. You may prefer to use sharp cookie cutters to cut shapes — your choice. Store the roll-ups in a zip-top bag for up to a week.
Makes approximately 20 roll-ups.
Kid rating: five stars, with bonus points for sending cute little (pink!) fruit leather hearts in school lunches today. This is like candy. Strike that: it is candy. Only, you made it and know what went into it and can feel just a little better knowing it’s not loaded with dyes and stabilizers.
Parent rating: four-and-a-half stars. I would have given it five if I’d been able to better gauge the whole time-in-the-oven thing. Full disclosure: our fruit leather had crispy edges. But even those were tasty. I couldn’t stop nibbling. Happy Valentine’s Day!