Are you looking for a low-salicyclate fruit snack for your kid’s lunches? No more bruised and browned pears or awful leftovers in dirty lunch bags. Introducing: Pear Leather suitable for Feingold Diet Stage 1.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
I have a confession to make. My kids are homeschooled, so I no longer pack their lunches. On the other hand, we are constantly shuttling to music practice, swim lessons, Tae Kwon Do class, and home again. I make banana chips by the bunch, but the kids want variety. The Feingold Diet, Stage 1, restricts fruit, so pear leather is borne of necessity.
In our kitchen, we cook in a series of steps, rather than following a recipe to the letter. Considering pear leather only has pears, this is a good way to get started cooking this way. The six steps are cutting the pears, cooking, pureeing, reducing, dehydrating, and rolling. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Cutting the pears
The pears can be ripe, as evidenced by soft fruit near the stem. When you cook down pears, it is not as important that they be perfectly ripe. I use an apple slicer to save time. If you have a food mill or sieve to remove bits, cook the pear with the skins and seeds. Otherwise, peel the pears and remove the seeds before cooking. How many pears? For your first batch, start with 8 or 9.
Step 2: Cook down until mushy
Any slow cooker or stock pot on low heat could be used, but I have embraced the Instant Pot as my time saver of choice and use it to cook down fruit. Fruit is high in natural sugars and can scorch. Any time you are cooking fruit, add some water to the pot. For a bag of pears (minus the pear the cook and kids eat right away), I add about 1/2 cup of tap water to the Instant Pot. Making sure the seal is good, I cook it for 4 minutes on high on the manual setting. If you are going to use a slow cooker overnight, consider adding 1 cup of water for your batch on low.
Step 3: Puree the goodness
I still have the food mill my mother used for me when I was a baby. It is great for sorting out the skins and seeds for cooked fruits and some vegetables. If you don’t have a food mill and kept the seeds and skins out from the beginning, you could use a stick blender, a regular blender, a food processor, or even a potato masher. Pears are gritty, and texture is to be expected.
Step 4: Reduce so you don’t make a mess
I regularly make a mess, but fortunately, I saw this one coming. The pear sauce is really runny, and when you pour it onto a tray, it will run everywhere. Take a few hours and reduce the sauce so it is thicker. You could return it to the Instant Pot and set it on slow cook without the lid. Be careful not to put it on high heat; it will burn. I pour my pears into my ceramic slow cooker and crank it to high, leaving the lid off. The thickness of the pot distributes the heat evenly. Every 15 minutes or so, give it a stir, until it becomes as thick as applesauce you buy in a jar. The goal is to remove some water, but not all of it.
Step 5: Dehydrate
To make this step easy, buy silicon sheets that are designed for your dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, buy a Silpat or similar sheet that fits a cookie sheet for the oven. Spread the sauce evenly and thinly, up to an 1/8 of an inch thick.
Shortly after you spread it out, you might notice a separation between the thick sauce and a watery sauce around the outside. Don’t worry about it unless it starts dripping off the edge. In that case, you might need to reduce it some more.
With a thermostatically-controlled dehydrator, like the Excalibur, set it to “Fruit/Fruit Rolls” at 135 degrees. If you are using an oven, that would be your setting as well. Let it dry all night.
Step 6: Roll the leather
Once your leather has had a few moments to cool, peel it off the silicon sheet so it will be easier to roll. Start at one corner and gently lift. Cut a piece of parchment paper just slightly larger than your fruit leather and place it on top. Start rolling at one end and make it as small as possible without tearing it. Once rolled, you can cut it into smaller portions and secure them with twine or rubber bands. I store the sections in a canning jar to control the humidity.
And now the adventure begins. What else can you turn into leather? For backpackers and campers, homemade veggie and fruit leathers are a cost-savings. For hungry kids on a restrictive diet in the cafeteria, it helps them not to feel deprived. Finally, for moms who spend many hours trucking these blessings around, pear leather is heaven-sent.