Strawberry Leather Made At Home
Strawberries hold a special place in my heart. I grew up in a religion that required that we keep at least a one-year supply of food. To meet this requirement, mot families had large kitchen gardens (much of the extra produce was canned or frozen or dried by mothers and grandmothers, then put away in storage closets and extra freezers.) We were no different. And as it was in many of the families we worshipped with, it was the oldest child’s job to tend the garden. That’s where strawberries come in. We grew them and I tended them, giving me a deep appreciation of this wonderful fruit.
Strawberries are delicious. In fact, they are one of the few fruits that most all humans enjoy—even the pickiest adult and child eaters will eat strawberries! Which is a very good thing because strawberries are a nutrition powerhouse. A one-cup serving (which is about 8 largish berries), provides 113% of your daily allowance for vitamin C and 28% of manganese, and 11.5% of fiber, with only 46 calories.
These beautiful berries are also loaded with phytonutrients—including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids—that act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients to help protect and heal from a very wide range of illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders and so many more. One large-scale study found that consuming a one-cup serving of strawberries 3 or more times a week was a powerful way to protect yourself from any inflammatory-causing disease (which includes, basically, most diseases).
By all means, enjoy strawberries raw and unadorned. But if you need some help in getting your prescribed weekly dose of berries, I offer you one of my childhood favorites: Strawberry leather. (I’ve tried this recipe with alternate sugars, but it didn’t set up as well. If you have luck using non-cane sugars, please let me know!)
Makes 8 servings
- 1 1/2 pound strawberries, halved (4 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup sugar (regular, sugarcane-based, table sugar)
Necessary equipment: 17 by 12-inch nonstick bakeware liner such as a Silpat or waxed paper; a large offset spatula
- Purée strawberries with sugar in a blender until very, very smooth.
- Strain strawberry puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heavy saucepan.
- Bring purée to a boil.
- Immediately turn heat to medium-low and simmer mixture until reduced to about 1 ¼ cups. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir frequently—especially toward the end—to prevent sticking. Finished mixture will mound slightly when dropped from a spoon.
- While strawberry puree cooks on the stove, preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.
- While strawberry puree cooks and oven preheats, line a large baking sheet with a nonstick liner or waxed paper.
- Pour hot purée onto liner and spread thinly (as evenly as possible) into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle using an offset spatula.
- Place pan in the oven on a middle rack. Dry purée in oven until it dries and no longer sticks to your fingers (it will, however, be slightly tacky). This will take about 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove dried leather from oven and cool on liner on a rack until completely dry, at least 3 hours and up to 24.
- Place a piece of waxed paper over leather, then peel leather off liner and roll up in waxed paper.
- Note: Strawberry leather keeps in a sealed bag at room temperature 1 month.
Want to grow your own strawberries?
- Strawberry plants ready for planting!
- The Berry Grower’s Companion, by Barbara L. Bowling.
- Upside-down strawberry planter.
- Terracotta strawberry pot.
- Freeze-dried strawberries to snack on while gardening.
- An easy-to-use strawberry huller.
- The Berry Bible: 175 Recipes, by Janie Hibler.