Last Updated on May 16, 2022
Homemade fruit leather is not only simple to make, 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? Try this amazing rhubarb fruit leather, and you’ll soon be a card-carrying member of the rhubarb fan club, too!
Better still, this recipe makes a bonus of deliciously tart rhubarb juice, so you’re getting 2 recipes for the price of one!
Why Make Homemade Fruit Leather?
This rhubarb leather has got to be one of my biggest wins as a mom trying to feed her kiddos the healthiest food in a world stacked against them.
I mean, in addition to all the candy holidays (Halloween just being the worst of them), their own school gives them junky fruit chews and their idea of a “healthy snack” contains more sugar than a grown-up should have in a day. (Here’s how much sugar per day is OK. Most of us WAY overshoot.)
Makes me crazy how everyone seems to want to feed kids chemicals and sugar!
But rhubarb leather, on the other hand, gives them a delicious treat with a side of veggies! That I can get on board with.
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 your rhubarb fruit leather only with all-fruit jam, but that will start to cost you a pretty penny, and the fruit used in jam is so concentrated, it’s essentially the same as adding sugar.
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. Combining rhubarb with sweeter fruits could help lessen the need for additional sweetener.
Homemade Fruit Leather with Rhubarb is a HUGE Win!
Now let’s talk about the star of the show, rhubarb.
Rhubarb’s a pretty niche vegetable, but I have to tell you, it’s what shines in this homemade fruit leather. The tart-sweet blend is just divine.
I have been a devoted fan of rhubarb ever since I got my first taste of rhubarb fruit 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, and I’ve divided them repeatedly, so I now have eight wonderful plants growing in our 1/10 acre edible landscape.
–>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. Here’s how to grow rhubarb so you can make piles of delicious rhubarb leather!
We love this homemade fruit leather so much, we just keep multiplying the rhubarb plants in our small garden, and we could probably use more. Especially because we also like to make plenty of crisps from the stalks we have left after we’ve made leather. Here’s a nearly failproof rhubarb crisp recipe you really need to try as well!
–>Need some other ideas for using bountiful rhubarb? Check out these other fabulous rhubarb recipes!
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.
If there’s extra room in the dehydrator, we’ll add whatever fruit needs using up and make delicious chewy dried bananas, homemade apple rings, or dried peaches. Preserving seasonal fruits is one of the easiest ways to continue eating seasonally during the long winter months when nothing grows here.
Eight or so hours later, presto! Our rhubarb 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!)
Save money, healthier food, less waste? What’s not to love about homemade fruit leather?
Can you use frozen rhubarb for homemade fruit leather?
Absolutely! Frozen rhubarb works fine in this rhubarb leather recipe. When huge harvests of rhubarb come in all at once, we don’t always have time to turn it all into fruit leather. But you can’t leave the stalks on the plant, or they’ll become tough. So we harvest all we can and freeze it for later use.
Here’s what to know about freezing rhubarb.
- 4-5 pounds rhubarb stalks
- All-fruit jam (berry flavors work well)
- Stevia, honey, or other sweetener to taste
- Gather up a big basket of rhubarb stalks. Note: **Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten.**
- 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 to make a refreshing drink to serve over ice. Sweeten with a little stevia if it's too tart for you.
- 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 if 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.)
Kept in an airtight container, this homemade fruit leather stays delicious for a year, if it lasts that long. (Trust me, it won't!)
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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1/4 disc leather
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
Nutrition data will vary depending on the sweetener you use.
And be sure to save the cooking liquid, which makes a delicious bonus juice. Check out this rhubarb juice recipe and enjoy this gorgeous refreshing mixer in soda and cocktails.
Try out this easy homemade fruit leather recipe for yourself and you too may start scouting out more places to grow rhubarb. Hope you love it as much as we do!
Give it a try — I think you’ll love it!
When fall rolls around, be sure to try this incredible 3-ingredient cinnamon apple pear fruit leather recipe. It has no added sweetener and tastes utterly fantastic.
Once you’ve made up a big batch of rhubarb fruit leather, you’ll find yourself with a huge pile of rhubarb leaves. You probably already know we don’t eat those, as they contain compounds that can make us very ill. To find out more, read ‘Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous?‘ and find out ways you can use them in the garden.
Have you made homemade fruit leather before? What are your favorites? Share in the comments!
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Photo credits: star5122, ulleo
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.