RECIPE: Berry-licious fruit roll-ups are kid-friendly cooking project

Homemade fruit leather is a snack that kids can help to prepare. Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen
Homemade fruit leather is a snack that kids can help to prepare. Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

Credit: America's Test Kitchen

Credit: America's Test Kitchen

Nearly a year into the pandemic and you’re still working remotely. Your children are still learning virtually. You want snacks and meals to be healthy, but sometimes you don’t have the time — or you’re simply too tired to cook. If this story sounds familiar to you, is it time to enlist the kiddos lest you lose your mind?

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The folks at America’s Test Kitchen have published a handful of cookbooks — and devoted a section of their website — to teaching the next generation how to cook. The latest kid-tested, kid-approved book, “The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs,” features recipes for re-creating favorite store-bought foods at home.

The recipe for Triple-Berry Fruit Leather stands out not just as a healthy homemade version of a Fruit Roll-Up, but as an entertaining Saturday project to occupy fidgety homebound kids. Between blitzing the fruit in a blender, reducing the mixture on the stovetop and baking it until it sets, the project will take roughly 5 hours before Junior gets to tear his teeth into fruit jerky while Mom stashes away the rest as next week’s after-school snack.

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Triple-Berry Fruit Leather from "The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs" (America's Test Kitchen, 2020). Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen
Triple-Berry Fruit Leather from "The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs" (America's Test Kitchen, 2020). Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

Credit: America's Test Kitchen

Credit: America's Test Kitchen

Triple-Berry Fruit Leather
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, and hulled, chopped strawberries)
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples (8 ounces each), peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Use pencil and ruler to draw a 14‑by-11‑inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper. Flip parchment and place on rimless baking sheet. Spray parchment evenly with vegetable oil spray.
  • Place berries in blender jar followed by apples. Pulse until fruit is finely chopped, about 10 (1-second) pulses, scraping down sides of blender jar with a rubber spatula.
  • Add sugar and process until very smooth, about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of blender jar with spatula halfway through processing.
  • Place fine-mesh strainer over large saucepan. Pour berry mixture through strainer into saucepan. Use back of ladle to stir and press on mixture to get out as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer (or reserve for another use, such as a smoothie).
  • Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer, whisking often and lowering heat if mixture begins to splatter, until mixture is thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • Pour mixture into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Mixture should measure 2 cups. If it is more than 2 cups, return mixture to saucepan and continue to cook over medium-low heat until mixture measures 2 cups.
  • Carefully pour berry mixture onto center of parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread mixture to edges of 14-by-11‑inch rectangle. Gently jiggle and tap baking sheet on counter to create a smooth, even layer.
  • Bake until mixture is set, 4 to 5 hours. The center of the fruit leather should feel dry but slightly tacky to touch, and fruit leather should peel away from parchment cleanly. If it’s still too wet, transfer baking sheet back to oven and continue baking.
  • Let fruit leather cool completely, about 30 minutes. Use scissors to cut fruit leather (along with parchment backing) crosswise into 12 (1‑inch-wide) strips (trimming away any dry edges as needed). Roll up fruit leather strips. (Once the fruit leather cools, cut and roll it immediately. Otherwise, the strips become less pliable.) Serve.
  • Fruit leather can be stored at room temperature in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes 12 fruit strips.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per fruit strip: 65 calories (percent of calories from fat, 4), 1 gram protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 1 milligram sodium.

Adapted from “The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs” (America’s Test Kitchen, 2020).

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