I was rarely given Fruit Roll-Ups as a kid. Instead, my siblings and I were stuck with the healthier, thicker fruit leathers from the natural foods aisle. We often yearned for the pliable texture, bright color, and saccharine flavor of the decidedly fruit-less roll-ups in our friends lunch boxes. Now that I make my own food choices, I honestly prefer the more wholesome choice.
Luckily, Casey Barber's recipe for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups in Classic Snacks Made from Scratch bridges the divide. By starting with whole ripe strawberries, she guarantees that you'll end up with true berry flavor. But these roll-ups are not totally virtuous—there's plenty of sugar in these babies to keep them soft, chewy, and enviably sweet.
Why I picked this recipe: After missing out on these sticky sweets as a kid, I knew I needed to make my own.
What worked: All these needed were a few imprinted shapes to peel and stick all over the kitchen table, and they'd be a dead-ringer for the original.
What didn't: Pay close attention to the thickness of your jelly when spreading. If you can see through it, it's too thin and will turn to brittle in the oven. On that note, pay close attention to your oven temp as well. You won't want it to go any higher than 200°F or you'll risk over-cooking the fruit.
Suggested tweaks: If you've got a dehydrator (lucky you), these will be even easier to make. If not, I was able to hack my oven into going below 200°F by opening and closing the door. I found that a temperature wavering between 175 and 190 worked just fine here. Once you've got the technique down, it'd be easy to adapt the recipe to work with just about any jammy fruit. I'm thinking about a peach-blueberry combination come summertime.
Reprinted from Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats by Casey Barber. Copyright 2013. Published by Ulysses Press. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:makes 12 (5x5-inch) rolls
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:6 to 7 hours
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
Cut the strawberries in half or quarters, depending on size, and mash roughly with a potato masher in a large bowl. You should have about 2 cups mashed berries. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to break down the berries slightly. Stir once or twice while they sit to dissolve the sugar.
Pour the strawberries and their natural syrup into a blender and blend for 1 minute, until a smooth purée forms. Pour into a high-sided pan or Dutch oven (the wider the better, to help the liquid evaporate evenly) and bring to a low boil over medium heat.
Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. Visual cues are your best friend when you're cooking fruit: the liquid will foam, then clarify as the bubbles slow and the purée thickens. At the final stage, the purée will be consistently thick and almost opaque, and it will "mound" slightly instead of immediately seeping back when pushed across the bottom of the pan with a spatula.
Preheat the oven to 175°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.
Divide the cooked fruit between the baking sheet and use an offset or silicone spatula to spread evenly into as thin and wide a rectangle as possible. The jam should be no more than 1/8 inch thick but still as evenly opaque as you can manage; thinner, more translucent spots will harden into brittle.
Heat in the oven for 5 to 6 hours, or until the fruit feels slightly tacky but no longer sticky. The timing will depend on the humidity level; a rainy day makes for a longer set.
Transfer the parchment or Silpats to wire racks and cool completely then transfer the fruit leather to sheets of waxed paper large enough to leave overhang on all sides. Use kitchen shears to cut the fruit leather from each pan into 6 (5 by 5-inch) squares. Fold the extra waxed paper over the edges before rolling so they won't fuse. Store the Roll-Ups at room temperature in an airtight container for up a week.