“As a child of the eighties, I have a particular fondness for sheets of chewy, dehydrated fruit rolled up in cellophane. This homemade version allows me to pass on the legacy of that sweet, sticky lunch box finery to my own kids, while controlling the sweetener and the quality of the fruit in the final product. I recommend making double batches—this stuff tends to fly!” — Shauna Sever, author of Real Sweet: More Than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Made with Natural Sugars
The best candidates for fruit leather are soft ones like berries and ripe stone fruit, as there’s no need to cook the fruits first. Thawed, unsweetened frozen fruit works well here, too. Steam apples and pears in a bit of water until very soft, or you can even use store-bought unsweetened apple or pear sauce for a shortcut.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to the lowest temperature that your oven will allow—ideally 170 degrees F but no more than 200 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet, about 12 x 17 inches in size, with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the fruit, honey, and lemon juice. Process the fruit until you have a very smooth puree. If you’re using berries with lots of little seeds, you can strain the puree, if you wish.
Pour the puree onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the puree into a very thin, even layer—if you’re using a 12- × 17-inch pan, the smoothed-out mixture will nearly fill the pan. Tilt and shimmy the pan a bit to even it out further.
Bake the fruit until it is dry to the touch all over with no tacky spots, anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on your oven’s temperature. Let the fruit leather cool completely in the pan, and let it rest at room temperature for about 2 hours—the fruit leather will be almost brittle in spots when it first emerges from the oven, but a rest on the counter will allow it to soften.
Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut through the fruit leather and the parchment, first cutting the sheet width-wise into 2 rectangles, then cutting each rectangle into five 2¼ × 8½-inch strips.
Roll up the cut pieces of fruit leather with the parchment on the outside, securing them with a length of twine. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.