I’m only showing the steps for the Raspberry Vanilla Leathers here because, well, it is pretty much the same the whole way through. First things first, fruit leathers work best with perfectly ripened fruit. Not overly ripe or mushy, though. Look at these gorgeous raspberries. I wanted to motorboat them! It was a bit tough to turn them into leather (no pun intended) and I admit, I snuck a few for myself.
Next we are going to create our purees. Take the 1 pound of raspberries and puree them, then halve and scrape both vanilla beans and add the seeds along with 1/4 cup of sugar to the puree, mixing well. For the mangoes, slice and cut them then puree fruit (hell, sneak a few bits for yourself). Juice 1 lime and add that juice along with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to the puree. The apples and fennel bulbs take an extra step. Prep the fennel bulbs, then chop them. Peel and core the apples, then chop them, placing them in a bowl with enough water to cover, and the juice of 1/2 lemon; this keeps them from browning until you’re ready to use them. Add the chopped fennel and apples to a frying pan along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and cook over a medium-low heat until tender. Then puree the mixture, adding in 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Line three separate quarter-sized baking sheets with parchment paper and pour each puree onto its own sheet. Holding each sheet on the short ends, give the sheets a shake… trying to evenly spread out the puree. You can use a spatula to make sure you get it to each corner. This part is a bit of a pain but you really do want an even spread.
Place the baking sheets in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees F and let them bake for about 6 hours, rearranging the pans midway, for an even dehydration. If you are just baking one of these at a time, it will only take about 3 hours individually.
When finished, the end bits will be a bit crispy and you might even have to cut them off as they won’t have a “leathery” texture you can work with.
Cut the flats of leather into 1-inch strips, parchment paper and all. If you find the parchment paper is tearing and hard to work with, you might need to use fresh sheets. But if you can use the stuff you baked, it means less waste. Every piece of paper you re-use saves a kitten’s life, just keep that in mind. Tie em off and enjoy!