Roll up, roll up – ladies and gentleman, welcome to the greatest show on earth!
Okay so I get a little over excited at harvest time but with our newly extended fruit cage coupled with the glorious hot weather we have been enjoying in this corner of the UK we have a harvest to shout about. And I’ve discovered a fantastic new way of preserving it – avoiding the calorie-loaded tooth-rotting volumes of sugar used in most traditional jams and jellies.
The secret is dehydrating the fruit, concentrating the natural sugars and then rolling the mix up into flavour packed parcels perfect for snaking.
If I could I would provide you with a simple recipe for roll ups or fruit leathers as they are also known. But there isn’t really a recipe, it’s a case of trial-and-error and experimentation with what ingredients and equipment you have to hand.
I hope you find the following useful. Please let me know how you get on in the comments below. Maybe you have ideas for new fruit combos to share? Or advice on what oven temperatures and cooking times you tried?
Step 1 – Pre heat the oven
Immediately we run into confusion. Basically you need a very low oven. I saw one recipe online suggest 170 degrees F which is less than Gas 1. Some people use commercial dehydrators which are custom made for the job but expensive to buy if you’re not going to get the use out of them. For us off-grid they are out of the question as the energy consumption is too high, so I used the very bottom of the Aga.
Step 2 – Blitz up the fruit
We have a bumper crop of soft fruit so my experiments with fruit roll-ups have been based around these so far – but the possibilities are endless. I tried blackcurrants, strawberries and also strawberries mixed with redcurrants -just to use them up before the dog scoffed the lot straight from the bush! I hear stewed rhubarb is very good as is gooseberry. Whizz up whatever combination you want in a food processor.
Step 3 – Add sweetness
Again this is entirely a matter of personal taste. I used a banana and some honey to add sweetness to my blackcurrant roll ups but the kids found them a bit tart and next time I think I’ll add stewed apple. Approximately two tablespoons of sugar added to about two punnets of strawberries was enough to produce delicious roll-ups which tasted not dissimilar to the sweets strawberry laces.
Step 4 – Pour into a prepared baking tray
Line a large shallow baking tray with greaseproof paper and pour in the fruit puree spreading into an even layer.
Step 5 – Bake in a low oven until set
Sounds easy but this is where the real fun and games begin. Quite how long is needed depends on your oven, your fruit, the size of your tray and how thinly you spread the layer in it. The roll up is ready when the centre is firm to touch. Anything from four hours to overnight. I left my first batch of strawberry roll ups in a touch too long and the edges went a bit crispy but it’s easy enough to cut those off in the next stage.
Step 6 – Peel off the roll up and place smooth side down on fresh greaseproof paper
You can cut the roll up with a pair of scissors. Shape into a neat rectangle, discarding any burnt edges.
Step 7 – Cut them into strips and roll tightly
My strawberry batch was perfectly behaved and stayed neatly rolled up but the blackcurrant batch burst their bonds and needed tape to hold them in place.
Step 8 – Unroll and enjoy or store
Roll ups should be stored in an airtight container. I’ve also popped some in the freezer to enjoy a flavour packed vitamin C boost this winter. Perfect for the kids lunch box when they go back to school.
Do let me know how you get on – and if you enjoyed this post and don’t want to miss another you can follow my blog by clicking on the blue link boxes at the bottom or side of this page.