Grown-Up Lunchbox Treat: Watermelon Fruit Leather
Remember Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot? Those super sweet snacks that tasted like anything but fruit, wrapped in cellophane with cut-outs and hyper-pigmented colors?
I do. And I loved them. Now? Not so much… but the occasional longing for something sweet and nostalgic is still there.
In this new age of DIY, we’ve come up with a version of the snack that everyone can enjoy. With some effort and patience, you can transform your fruit into an on-the-go treat.
In lieu of late summer sights and sweets, I went with watermelon. 1) I have never really found any snacks that taste like watermelon, despite how many smiley-faced melons dapple the wrapper. 2) Watermelons just remind me of riverside family picnics and digging spoons into watermelon halves with my sister, while watching the setting sun dip behind our backyard trees.
Watermelon Fruit Leather
Ingredients:4 c watermelon, sweet and red segments only¾ c sugar
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. (You’ll want a low heat to slowly and evenly dehydrate your fruit pulp.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat nonstick liner. This is essential for rolling the leather off of the pan. Opt for parchment paper if taking the leather on-the-go, the paper acts as a great substitute barrier in place of the classic cellophane.
Purée the watermelon in a blender or food processor, then place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and cover that with two layers of cheesecloth.
Strain the watermelon juice through the cheesecloth, (It will be a slow strain because of all the layers, but just help the process along by stirring the pulp with a spoon.)
By the time I completely strained my juice, I was left with two jugs of watermelon “water” and only 1 ½ c of watermelon pulp. Who would’ve thought that a medium watermelon really is mostly water?
Reserve the watermelon “water” for the next blog post on some fun ways to use up all of that remaining liquid. Refreshing and intensely watermelon-y beverages up next on the blog!
Stir the watermelon pulp into ¾ c of granulated sugar, then spread the mixture onto your lined baking sheet. You want a thin layer that is almost transparent. I found that using an offset spatula gave me an even layer with ease.
Place the baking sheet into the oven for 4-5 hours. Check your leather occasionally for a tacky texture— somewhere in between sticky and stiff. The time will vary based on how moist the pulp is and the humidity of the kitchen.
After it bakes, remove from the oven, cool, and cut into strips. Roll up and enjoy!
The watermelon leather can be described in no other way than being intensely watermelon-y. It is slightly earthy but sweet, and it retains that signature vibrant hue.
To change it up, pieces of the leather would be great on top of desserts as garnish or even thrown into salads in place of fresh watermelon or dried fruit!