Homemade fruit leather is surprisingly simple to make, and it’s so much healthier and cheaper than store bought! This homemade fruit leather recipe is extra-special because it uses rhubarb, which is actually a vegetable. How often do you get to count a treat toward your veggies for the day?
Why Make Homemade Fruit Leather?
Making your own homemade fruit leather lets you control the ingredients and skip the artificial flavor and colors. And no plastic packaging! Another win for zero waste.
You can also keep the added sugar to a minimum. Store-bought fruit leathers are way over sweetened, IMO. You could make this homemade fruit leather with only two ingredients, rhubarb and some stevia, for a sugar-free version. You could also try sweetening only with all-fruit jam, but that will start to cost you a pretty penny. You can skip the jam altogether and try coconut sugar or honey for a refined-sugar free treat that will still be far less sweet than anything you can buy.
I have been a devoted fan of rhubarb ever since I got my first taste of rhubarb leather over a decade ago. I am so grateful the dehydrating maven Mary Bell got me hooked on this (reasonably) healthy treat, as I now can make huge quantities of a homemade fruit leather MADE FROM A VEGETABLE to satisfy the sweet teeth in our house.
Homemade fruit leather with rhubarb was also the entry point for me to become a raving fan of dehydrating, one of the simplest food preservation methods even someone with limited time and bandwidth can manage. (Find the minimal amount of information you need to get started dehydrating in my post on dehydrating food for novices.)
I got my first rhubarb plant as a free division from another gardener who answered my ISO on Freecycle.
–>Here’s how to get free plants, including your very own rhubarb if you want to save big on the next additions to your garden.
Rhubarb is incredibly easy to grow. Once planted it’s a hardy perennial that will come back year after year with almost no work on your part. And it’s gorgeous in the landscape or as a border for your veggie patch.
We love this homemade fruit leather so much, we have FIVE big plants in our edible front yard, and we could probably use more.
Every spring, we wait impatiently for the stalks to size up, then head out with bags to fill with rhubarb stalks. I cook as many as will fit in our largest stock pot, whir it all up with a little jam, and pour it on the dehydrator.
Eight or so hours later, presto! Our sauce has turned into gorgeous tart-sweet homemade fruit leather. The kids actually prefer it to the supersweet “fruit” leathers you can buy in the store. (Read the ingredients on the package — most don’t actually contain much fruit!)
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Save money, healthier food, less waste? What’s not to love about homemade fruit leather?
Try out this easy homemade fruit leather recipe for yourself and you too may start scouting out more places to grow rhubarb! Let me know what you think!
Homemade Fruit Leather from Rhubarb
This flexible homemade fruit leather recipe is meant to work with whatever amount of rhubarb you have. Because my dehydrator has 8 trays, I make a huge batch at once to save time. You could make less if you’d rather.
I like to keep added sugar to a minimum and enjoy the tartness of the rhubarb, but this recipe involves tasting so you can achieve the sweetness you prefer.
- Gather up a big basket of rhubarb stalks. Note: **Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten.** (They’re actually useful for suppressing weeds if you place them around the garden when you harvest your stalks.
- Cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces and place in large stock pot.
- Cover with filtered water and bring almost to a boil, then turn off the heat. Let sit roughly an hour, when the rhubarb should be quite soft.
- Drain most of the water and scoop with a slotted spoon into a blender or food processor. You can reserve some of liquid and sweeten with a little stevia to make a refreshing drink to serve over ice.
- Add a big dollop of all-fruit jam for each 2 cups of rhubarb, then add sugar, honey, stevia, or other sweetener to taste. If you have extra strawberries, they could be added for sweetening also. Remember the final leather will be quite a bit sweeter than the sauce, so keep it on the tart side.
- You can use some of the extra liquid from the pot for thinning out the sauce if it’s very thick.
- If you have a dehydrator, use the leather-making discs over the grates on the trays; spray or brush lightly with oil to keep the leather from sticking. (This is the dehydrator I use. Go in on with a friend or two and save a little money and storage space.) Spread sauce about 1/4″ thick and set the temperature to 130 degrees and let run for about 4 hours. Check that it’s dried into leather but is still pliable; allow to dehydrate further if some parts are still sauce rather than leather.
- (If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use a cookie sheet and your oven on very low heat. Instructions here.)
I like to keep this sauce pretty tart because the sugars concentrate when it dries, but the sauce is still pretty yummy plain. You can experiment with how much sugar you like and whir in some other fruits if you want.
Kept in an airtight container, this homemade fruit leather stays delicious for a year, if it lasts that long. (Trust me, it won’t!)
Give it a try — I think you’ll love it!
Have you made homemade fruit leather before? What are your favorites? Share in the comments!
–>Need some other ideas for using bountiful rhubarb? Check out these other fabulous rhubarb recipes!
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Photo credits: star5122, ulleo