fruit

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather

by Sally on November 12, 2014

One Ingredient Grape Fruit Leather from Real Mom NutritionFruit Roll-Ups are a regular fixture on the kid circuit, showing up at soccer games, parties, and even school snack time. But most of them have multiple added sweeteners, oil, synthetic dyes, and juice concentrate instead of actual fruit.

So I make my own in the oven as an occasional treat. I’ve tried all kinds of fruit, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and apples. I typically use a combination of fruit, lemon juice, and sugar. (Get my recipes for Strawberry Fruit Leather and Apple Cinnamon Fruit Leather).

As a Grapes From California Blogger Ambassador, I’ve spent time tooling around their recipe page. They already have a recipe for grape fruit leathers. But I wondered: Since grapes have such an intense, natural sweetness, could you skip the added sugar completely? I tried it, and it worked! Then I made a second batch without lemon, and my kids gave it the coveted double thumbs-up.

A one-ingredient recipe. Can’t beat that.

But I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Making homemade fruit leather can be tricky. And sometimes sticky. Whenever I post about fruit leathers here or on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page, I hear from at least one frustrated reader whose fruit leather flopped. So if you want to try your hand at homemade fruit leather, keep in mind my four top tips:

1. Use a Silpat. I know some people make fruit leather on parchment, but a Silpat baking mat is ideal for the job. I’ve had my Silpats for more than a decade and they’ve held up well. If you do a lot of baking, it’s definitely worth having.

2. Make it even. This is key. It helps ensure that your edges aren’t crispy while your middle’s still gooey. Use a spatula to spread your mixture on the Silpat. Then, holding the pan at each end, bang the pan on the counter a couple of times to evenly distribute the mixture across the baking mat.

3. Peek. A lot. Once the leather has been baking for about two hours, start checking it every 15 minutes or so. Depending on your oven and the thickness of your mixture, the total baking time may be more than three hours. The leather is ready when it still feels a little tacky but doesn’t come off on your finger when you touch it.

4. Don’t expect perfection. Some batches turn out better than others. Sometimes you’ll have a thick spot that just won’t dry. That’s okay. There’s a reason homemade leathers don’t look like the boxed kind, but in my book, that’s a trade-off worth making!

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh seedless grapes, rinsed and removed from stems
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (or the lowest your oven will go).
  2. Puree grapes in a blender until completely smooth.
  3. Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat baking mat. Holding the pan firmly at each end, bang the pan on the counter to be sure the mixture is evenly distributed across the Silpat.
  5. Bake for 2-4 hours, checking frequently. The fruit leather is done when it’s sticky but doesn’t come off on your finger when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Cut into strips (a pizza cutter works great for this job) and place on parchment or waxed paper. Cut paper into strips and roll up.
  7. Store in airtight container for up to three days or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Disclosures: I’m happy to be working with Grapes from California as a Blogger Ambassador. I am compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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FoodDay2014_poster_11x17_new2small-page-001You’re already doing a lot to make healthy eating happen at home. But you might feel helpless when it comes to your kids’ school. Children spend 35-plus-hours at school every week, eating up to two meals (and maybe even a snack) there. That makes it a natural setting for learning about and experiencing food. Good food. The kind that doesn’t come in a plastic wrapper. Here are 12 ways you can take action in your child’s school to make that happen:

1. Volunteer to bring a fruit tray or fruit salad to the next class party or school event. The simple “fruit rainbow” I brought to my son’s preschool class was a huge hit and was quickly gobbled up.

RainbowFruit

2. Join a PTA committee that plans events and fundraisers and lobby for healthier options. For example, could a cookie dough fundraiser be swapped for a Florida citrus sale? Could the PTA adopt a “water only” drink policy for all school events? Could students get slices of watermelon instead of snow cones on the last day of school?

3. Ask your child’s teacher about taking a field trip to tour a local farm, farmer’s market, or natural foods market. Some farms and markets have special programming just for schools–and your children’s teachers may have health-related topics they need to cover as part of their curriculum (that’s a win-win!). Last year, my son’s kindergarten teachers arranged a class visit to a farm to learn about maple sugaring, then they all returned in the spring to see how bees make honey.

IMG_1044

4. Celebrate your child’s birthday by donating a book to the classroom that teaches a lesson about food (two of my favorites are Yoko and Bread & Jam for Frances). Babble.com has a list of 10 books for a Healthy Food Attitude.

5. See if your child’s teacher would be open to having a farmer or chef visit the classroom and talk about how food is grown or prepared.

6. Get to know your school’s foodservice team. Thank them for their work. Ask questions. Find out how decisions are made. Be polite and gracious.

7. Volunteer to talk to your child’s class about food and nutrition. Super Healthy Kids has simple lesson plans for all grade levels.

8. Join your school’s wellness committee (or start one) and work on programming that gets students excited about healthy habits (read: “School Wellness Programs That Rock“).

9. Find out if your child’s school takes part in Farm to School, a national movement to source more foods locally and to provide educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. The USDA provides a toolkit to “grow your own” program.

DSC_112810. If the school allows outside food, organize parents to do tastings. Have kids sample different kinds of apples and make a bar graph of the class favorites. Bring your blender and whip up green smoothies with spinach and fruit. Let kids mash avocadoes into guacamole they scoop up with chips. Get advice from School Bites in this post, Tips for Starting a Preschool Cooking Class.

11. Does your child get a snack every day in class or at a school after-care program? If you’re not happy with the quality of the snack, talk to the teacher or staff about possibilities. Here’s a huge list of snack ideas from CSPI.

12. If your school has a garden, pitch in to help. If they don’t, could they start with a raised bed or containers? Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation has lots of resources for making a case for a school garden, designing a garden, recruiting volunteers, and developing activities around it.

I wrote this post as part of a coordinated blogging event for Food Day. Held every October 24th, Food Day is designed to inspire Americans to change their diets for the better and to improve food policies. Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), it’s a day to resolve to make changes to your own diet and to take action to solve food-related problems in our communities at the local, state, and national level.

Visit the following blogs written by other authors participating in Food Day’s first-ever Coordinated Blogging Event:

Food Day

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My Summer Bucket List: The Food

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This summer, I want to… 1. Make many, many batches of homemade ice cream in my turquoise Cuisinart ICE-21. 2. Learn how to dry or freeze the extra herbs from my garden instead of letting them go to waste. 3. Go blueberry picking with my kids. Eat so many berries I feel sick. Repeat. 4. Drink a […]

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3 Days of Giveaways: Bare Fruit Apple Chips

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This is one bag of chips you’ll actually want your kids digging into. And believe me, they will. These Bare Fruit organic apple chips are dried apples. With nothing added–no sugar, no preservatives. They’re “baked-dried” in wood-burning ovens at low temperatures for hours. So unlike other dried apples, they’re not soft. They’re crispy and crunchy. […]

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