slow cooking expert and mom to three
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Sunday, September 7, 2008

CrockPot Fruit Leather Recipe


Day 251.

I tried to make fruit leather in the crockpot. It didn't work.

I think it could have worked----everything was right in theory----but I cooked it way too long because I fell asleep and it was my sleep-in day so I didn't get up right away to check on it.

The house now smells like a charred apple pie.

The Ingredients.
blurry picture. I didn't change the lens.

--4 apples, cut in quarters
--2 tsp vanilla
--1/2 cup dried cranberries
--juice from one lemon

The Directions.

I used apples as a base, but you can use any fruit you'd like. Except this doesn't really work, so you'd mostly just be wasting fruit.

I didn't peel the apples, but quartered them (removing the seeds and core) and threw them into a 4-quart crockpot. Add the juice from one lemon, 2tsp of vanilla, and a 1/2 cup of dried unsweetened cranberries.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The apples will be quite squishy, and it will be like applesauce.
Blend the applesauce mixture in a blender until the mixture is blended into a thin pulp. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit into the crockpot you are going to use. I ended up using 10 pieces.

Put a piece of parchment into the crockpot, and spoon on some mixture. Layer another piece of parchment on top, and continue layering until you run out of fruit pulp.

Cover, but prop lid open with a chopstick, and cook on low for 12-20 hours. I cooked ours for 20. That was too long.



The Verdict.

I used to have a food dehydrator. It never worked the way it said it would on the infomercial. I tried banana chips, fruit roll-ups, and beef jerky. I was disappointed each and every time. During one of our moves we gave the dusty machine to my father-in-law. He has used it to make deer jerky a few times, and it worked okay for him.

I wanted this to work. I think in principle, it could have, if I had watched it more closely. It wasn't burning, but was drying bit by bit before I went to bed. I think I figured since the food dehydrator never really worked (for me), the food would still be pretty wet in the morning.

I'm beginning to think it's cheaper and better for my self-esteem to stick to buying fruit leather at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. They make quite a few varieties now with no extra sugar and sometimes they are on sale--5 for a dollar.

28 comments:

Amiyrah said...

So sorry it didn't work out for you! I do applaud you for trying all of these things and "keeping it real" by telling us when it works, when it doesn't and what may help it work if we want to try it. I don't think I ever had fruit leather though. Gotta look for that next time I'm at the stores. Sounds like it would be yummy...

Crockpot Lady said...

Thanks, Amiyrah. Fruit leather is the all-natural form of fruit roll-ups or fruit-by-the-foot. It doesn't taste quite as good and isn't fluorescent, but is better for you. :-)

LauraC said...

I had a huge flop trying to make apple butter last week in my crockpot. It turned into a huge black brick of charred apples and sugar that clearly went beyond the hardball stage.

It is actually my finest disaster ever in the kitchen. I smelled the burning through the lid!

the cluttered desk said...

Darn. I was hoping this would work. It sounds yummy! I used to have a dehydrator, and I used it all the time to make delicious things.

If anyone gets this to work, post so the rest of us who are too chicken to experiment can try it!

Chi said...

Oh too bad! I used to do a LOT of dehydrating: banana, apple, pear, peach, apricot, peach, strawberry chips. Cherries too were super delicious - just a little messy with the pitting. The overripe fruits went into the blender for fruit leather. They all turned out wonderful and provided year-round great snacks. Sometimes I would mix all the fruit up for leather and those turned out the best. I even made wonderful beef jerky. The only disappointement was grapes which to my dismay, turned into plain old common raisins - imagine that - lol! I had and still have an Equi Flow dehydrator. It's a foolproof no-nonsense workhorse that uses up as much electricity as a lightbulb - that was it's biggest selling asset. I don't think they make them anymore though - pity. If they're no longer made, watch out for them on eBay or garage sales and grab one if you find it. It'll be worth every penny. They weren't cheap when they were popular but I bet you could find one now for pennies. Anyway, store-bought fruit leathers, no matter how natural, just seem to taste inferior to homemade. Could be just me though.

Cherie said...

hmmm despite your flop I want to try this.I have a surplus of peaches and apples.

karen said...

Can't win them all, I guess. :(

Not sure I'd want to make fruit leather anyway. But that's just me. ;)

Anyway, as previously mentioned, it does help that you tell what works and what doesn't work quite so well!

Joanna said...

This is so funny. I wanna make this just to see if it's possible for it to turn out okay. I think this idea was is really creative.

I also wanted to tell you that I had a customer yesterday at Sears place an order over the phone for a crock-pot. Besides it being the longest, drawn out phone of my life, i gave her your website to get some recipes. She said she didn't have a computer because she's too old, but hey, I tried to help. haha

Crockpot Lady said...

bwhahaha! thanks, Joanna!
xox
steph

BrendaLou said...

I used to make fruit leather & chips & jerkey with the dehydrator too. We'd take all the scavenged fruit (we live in wild blackberry country & lots of abandoned orchards) we could find and make chips & leather. Enough to keep 3 girls with leather in lunch every day! I'd make a deal with hunters--I'd make jerkey for 1/2 of it. Love your blog. I've gotten lots of ideas. Thanks

Crockpot Lady said...

ack! BrendaLou, I need your tips, then. I could never make the dehydrator work for me. I'd study the little book that came with it...
~sigh~

Lynne said...

Excaliber makes a great dehydrator.
http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/product.php I too bought the ones at the store and they never worked as well as the one my mom had when I was a kid. She still has it and makes fruit leathers for my kids. So, I checked out the make and bought one of my own. I've had mine about 6 years. Love it. Keep on experimenting... love seeing what you're doing with the crockpot. Soccer season has begun and I'll be using my crockpot more.

Molly said...

FYI - They also sell fruit leather at Target which is cheaper than Trader Joe's. You can get a box of 10 for like $2.99.

marjorie said...

I make apple butter in my crockpot. You cook it at high for only one hour and then turn it on low, checking and stirring it. It does a great job. Mind you I have two very elderly slow cookers, I don't think they run as hot as the new ones.
I too use a dehydrator and it does fine for me. I do have the cookbook, Dry it, you'll like it. It is very helpful. I don't do fruit leather though as the ingredients aside from the apples are too expensive in my part of the country.

Kristi said...

I have no Trader Joe's. *cry* We used to travel to Chicago fairly often (2 - 2.5 hours away)and I'd stock up on goodies and Two Buck Chuck, but now that we own a business, we are stuck here the majority of the time. *tragic sigh*

;)

Sarah said...

Trader Joe's? I've never been to one.....hopefully soon. I enjoy going to 'new' to me grocery stores. :-) Thanks for all the great recipes.

Karah said...

Well good for you for trying!!

I get our fruit leather at Costco - it's the same brand they sell at a lot of the health food stores (the name escapes me at the moment) - but my kids LOOOVE it.

Katie said...

Sorry it didn't work :( I made strawberry fruit leather the other day....using my car! Kinda weird, but it worked great! Here's the link in case you want to see how it went (along with a simple recipe):

DIY: Fruit Roll Ups

I just found your blog today, but will certainly be returning! I LOVE all the easy yummy recipes....and with easy clean up, too! Thanks for sharing! :)

Amie said...

they can't all be winners, my dear, you you still are one! =)

ejm said...

Just found your blog and I'm loving it! I adore my crockpot and am always looking for new ideas. I'll be back!

::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

Darn, too bad this didn't work|!

Anonymous said...

Your post about fruit leather brought back such memories. Growing up in California, we had gobs of plums to eat due a great mature plum tree in our back yard. We made fruit leather all the time, but had no fancy equipment or food dehydrator. I know sometimes my mom put the prepared fruit puree in the oven on baking sheets with the oven set to the very lowest setting. Also, I remember putting the trays of fruit puree out in the sun to bake. Guess that defeats the whole Crock Pot experience, but would make a fantastic snack all the same. Love your site!

lilybeee said...

A lovely thing about making apple butter and/or fruit leather is that you can just toss the fruit in quartered, because everything disintegrates as it cooks. when it's fully mush, you can put it thru a fine potato ricer and the seeds and whatever is left of the skin will stay in the ricer. Be sure it's in a bowl or pan or blender so that none of the holes point into the kitchen, cause it does squirt out, but you only make that mistake once, lol.

I don't think you can leave it totally unattended, as it cooks down, but stirring once every hour or half hour is easy if it's one the counter.

Once you have it to fruit butter consistency, it will still spread easily, but it'll dry into leather faster than it does at sauce consistency.

I loooove the car method, lol, tho I've only used the turned off oven method myself.

Last time I made apple butter, I put the skins and seeds back in a small pan with some water, swished it around tossed it in a strainer over the pan and made a nice spiced apple drink as a reward -- it's too sweet to eat pear or apple butter straight, even without adding sugar, so it's diluted and you save that last bit of great flavor.

Pear butter with ginger and cardamon was an astounding hit, and regular apple butter flavors makes a nice autumny drink.

Now I'm all curious about how cherries would work if you just left the pits in to cook them up....

Scarlett said...

Just found your blog, and I'm loving it. I'd recently started making fruit leathers - never thought to try it in the crock pot - and they're really easy in the oven, if you don't have a dehydrator and they don't work in the crock pot. The recipe I found only said to dry them in the oven (at below 200*, or whatever is the lowest your oven will heat to) for "up to 18 hours," but I found that to be way too long (although, when I overcooked mine, it was good anyway; less like leather, more like chips in terms of consistency, but still good for a snack). I usually leave mine in the oven for 8-12 hours, checking on it every hour or so towards the end.

Jessica said...

Too bad this didn't work. You mentioned getting fruit leathers at TJ's and WF...Target's Archer Farms makes several vareties of fruit leather and they're organic and have nothing but fruit concentrates and juice in them. They're really pretty good, my daughter LOVES them. They come 10 to a box for $2.99, the periodically go on sale for $2.50. :)

Sara-the-Ladybug said...

I might have to try this too.. My parents have a small cherry orchard and a few apple trees, the trees mainly feed the birds in the neighborhood... but My mom saved quite a bit of cherries last summer, I might have to try that.... Apricot would be wonderful.. and wild blackberry, oh yumm.. huckleberry would be awseome... it would probably take 3 days to pick enough huckleberries to do that! LOL

ania said...

I couldn't make this anyway.

I don't have a chopstick.

(Kidding!)

I do wished this had worked - it'd be nice to be able to make fruit leathers myself. We have tons of pear trees around - and I think they'd be a good base fruit. But I'm glad that you post the hits and misses. They're both extremely helpful.

Barbara said...

You bought the wrong dehydrator, that's all. The one sold on an infomercial is junk, as you discovered. Get a Nesco or go big time with an Excaliber. They are way cheaper to operate than a freezer full of food that can spoil when you lose power for 5 days like some of us do! Dried food shrinks so you need much less space in which to store it. I use a $20 Fresh Saver hand held vacuum and special caps to seal canning jars full of dehydrated foods and it works beautifully. Some things are better frozen, but I don't do those during hurricane season. I made a lot of fruit leather by mixing applesauce and strawberry Jello, then dehydrated it to the leather stage, that is absolutely delicious.

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