Fruit Leather for Backpacking (Dehydrator Required)
Fruit leather is a great alternative to taking fresh fruit with you on the trail. The leather packs way better than an apple would, and does not bruise while in your pack. Fruit leather when done properly will keep for weeks. With fruit leather you can experiment with all different kinds of flavors, because you can use virtually any fruit you like. One more added benefit to fruit leather is the trash is super easy to pack out. Side note here, your orange peels, banana peels, and apple cores are trash and you need to pack them out with you.
What you need
- dehydrator- Sky is the limit here, just don’t buy one with out a fan, and remember you get what you pay for.
- non-stick sheets- I use reusable sheets that fit in my machine, and there are specific made trays for fruit leather.
- large pot- large pot to boil the fruit in to reduce the mixture, size of pot depends on how much leather you make in a batch.
- blender- any blender/food processor will work.
- non-stick spray- I use this on my sheets to allow the fruit leather to peel off easier, you don’t have to use it.
- fruit-use what you like, I find that strawberries make the best base and I add other fruits to it.
- honey/sugar-I don’t use either of these because I like it tart, if you like it more sweet add some sugar.
- Prepare your fruit. I usually use frozen fruit without any additives because it is cheaper. If you are using fresh fruit cut it into smaller pieces and wash it. Don’t cut it up too small you are going to blend it before it goes into the dehydrator.
- Cook your fruit. Add all your fruit to a large pot, put it on the stove over medium heat. Stir this mixture occasionally to keep it from burning to the bottom of you pot. The fruit will begin to melt and let out the moisture. Your mixture will become soupy and start to thicken as it is at a low simmer. You just need to let it cook down until it is thickened we are not cooking the fruit we are reducing the amount of water in the fruit for texture and to reduce dehydrating time.
- Blend your fruit. Just that put it in the blender and blend it until it is like baby food. Thick enough that it will spread, fine enough there are no large bits. You can do this while the liquid is hot, just use precaution, I prefer to let it cool down.
- Spread your fruit. Pour your fruit on the non-stick treated sheets or trays. This is where you kind of have to experiment with your dehydrator. I did some research and most recipes were saying lay it about 1/4″ thick. That is crazy in my opinion, or (in my opinion, most of these people don’t know what a 1/4″ actually is). That is too thick and will take forever to dehydrate. I like to put it less than that. Also if your dehydrator is square, like mine, make it thicker around the edges and thinner in the middle. This way you do not get crusty edges and soft middle.
- Dehydrate your fruit. Try what you machine recommends for temperature, and experiment. I have a 1000 watt Crawford machine and I set mine to 115°F, and run it for about 8 hours. Remember less is better here. If you need to cook it longer you can, if you let it run too long you will have fruit crusty flakes™, not leather.
- Eat your fruit leather. You now have fruit leather. You can cut it into squares, roll it up whatever. I like to roll it and then vacuum pack it. It sucks it down into neat little squares when done. I have had this stuff lasts months, and even longer if you freeze it.
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