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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

100% Real Fruit Roll-Ups

I confess, I have an addiction.  I have eliminated ingredients I can't pronounce from my diet as much as I can on a very tight budget.  I don't claim have the perfect diet, but I do what I can.  My addiction:  fruit roll-ups.  I'm not kidding you, I could sit down and eat a whole box at any given moment.  Do you know what are in fruit roll-ups?  ME NEITHER!  I am also trying to get more fruit and vegetables into my daily diet.  My one stone for these two birds?  100% real fruit roll-ups.

Are you excited?  You should be!  Here's the tutorial:

Step 1:  Start with fruit.  You can use any kind of fruit you want.  Berries, grapes, bananas, apples, seriously, go nuts.  I used blackberries and bananas, with a little grape juice squeezed in.  I should tell you, my measurements are not precise... I am a cooking snacker.  It's true.  So here's what I did, but keep in mind, it is almost impossible to mess this up.  So I used about 1 1/2 mason jars of blackberries and about 1 1/2 large bananas that were very ripe.  I used 1 1/2 because I ate the other half while I was peeling them!  Hahaha, I am really enjoying this post so far.  (Are my perfectionist readers angry yet?)  Put your fruit in a mediumish saucepan on the stove, low heat.  I also squeezed a handful of grapes' juice over the fruit.

Step 2:  Mash and mix.  As the fruit warms, get out your favorite masher and mash!

 Once you have everything thoroughly mashed together it will look something like this.  I am sure if you are more dedicated to hand-mashing than I am, you could mash to a smooth puree by hand.  I do not have that many hours in the day, so once I got it to a rough mash,  I whipped out the ol' hand mixer.  Keep in mind, the hand mixer is going to be messy.  VERY, EXTREMELY MESSY!  I don't know if I'm just terrible at being clean, but I had berry goo all over my hand, shirt, mixer, and stove top.  I am a messy cooker, but this was nuts.  sheesh!  I started at the lowest speed, went to medium for a while, then whipped it up to high for just a few seconds.  Again, these things are not an exact science, I was just winging it until my puree looked like this:

(Since I used Blackberries, mine are quite seedy.  I don't mind the seeds.  If you do, choose a less seedy berry, like blueberries, or other fruit.) 

Step 3:  Slap it on a pan!  Lay some parchment paper over a cookie sheet and spray it with non-stick spray. Do not skip this step.  Trust me.  It lifts off so easy when sprayed.  Use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread the mix evenly.  My pot of fruit made about 2 cups of puree, which was the perfect amount for my large cookie sheet.  Spread evenly, so as to avoid thin spots which will become crunchy rather than chewy and roll-up-y.

Step 4:  Pop it in the oven.  Set your oven to the lowest temperature.  I have the oldest, ugliest, crappiest electric oven on the PLANET.  My lowest temp setting is 200*, but there's also this ambiguous "warm" temp... I went somewhere between 200 and warm.  Between 150* and 175* is ideal.  Leave your oven open just a little.  Again, my oven is the worst, so it will only hold itself closed, halfway open, or completely open... ARGGGG! anyway, I stuck a wooden spoon in the door to keep it open just a crack.  You have to let some of the moisture out.  The cooking process will take about 5 hours... It can take more or less than that depending on what fruit you use.  You have to keep an eye on it starting at around 4 hours.  When you're done, the roll-ups will be a nice, dark color.  Poke it as you go.  It should feel slightly squishy but not sticky when it's done.  
If it stops feeling squishy, and is crunchy, you've gone too far or spread too thin.  I'm not 100* sure, but I bet if you squeezed some fresh juice over it (think grape or apple) and let it set (covered) for a while, you could probably moisten it back up some.

I am not perfect, so I always have a few crunchy spots.  I tear them apart from the nice chewy bits and put them in a baggy to crumble over oatmeal or yogurt later.

When your roll-ups are finished cooking, pull the parchment paper to a cutting mat and use a pizza roller to slice into rolls.  All that's left is to roll 'em up and enjoy!  I would love to hear about the fruit combos you choose to try!

So, what do you think?  The pictures were a little better, huh?  In other news, I GOT ENGAGED THIS WEEKEND!!!!  I'm so happy, and since my wedding will (obviously) be almost completely hand-made DIY projects, you can expect plenty of pretty new projects coming your way.  I am one happy gal!

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