If it still to this day surprises me, it’s got to be surprising to you too: Fruit leather is so Lebanese.
I was eating fruit leather long before I’d ever heard that term, and even before we were buying fruit roll-ups at Schmidt’s on Lansing’s west side way back when.
The original Lebanese version of fruit leather is a thicker, sticky apricot paste folded like a letter and wrapped in orange cellophane. It’s called amerdeen (um-er-DEEN; also qamardeen and qamar el edeen), it tastes of super-concentrated dried apricots, and at home we always considered it a treat of a day when the orange package showed up on the kitchen counter for us to tear into.
It may be surprising that fruit leather is Lebanese, but not so surprising that the original is apricot. Always apricot and never, ever anything other than apricot, which is the most beloved fruit of the fruit-loving Lebanese (to date, we’ve used apricots here, here, here, and here). When I was in Lebanon last year, I loved seeing Lebanese candies that layer amerdeen with pistachio nougat or rose jelly. There was a beautiful box of these waiting in our room at the Four Seasons in Beirut, and then again sold from the back of a guy’s car in a small village where we stopped near the Chouf mountain area, and still more in the beautiful Dwaihy pastry shops there. You can imagine the candies are on my kitchen hit list…
The first summer I launched this site, I was asked about how to make fruit leather, and I haven’t gotten it out of my mind ever since. Now that I’ve done it and discovered how simple it is to transform pretty much any fruit into leather with a process akin to making preserves, I can’t wait to go after any and every fruit with the leather in mind.
But the apricot will be tough to beat. There were true shrieks of delight here on Main Street when my nieces and nephews sampled the apricot-lime leather this week, which I tied up with green twine for their fun (and let’s face it, my own and yours too) . They practically SANG to me that it’s the BEST fruit leather they’ve EVER eaten, SO much better than the fakey stuff you buy at the store. They say I should SELL it, and call it “Maureenie’s Fruit Treat,” or “Up North Fruit Paste.”
This isn’t just approval-because-we-love-you, either. These kids are seriously nuanced with their food; my 11-year-old nephew dubbed the apricot leather a ‘paste’ without ever having heard of amerdeen, and he asked me all kinds of questions about how the leather is made, nodding in approval at the addition of lime to balance the sweet and add a tart element.
Maureenie’s apricot fruit leather is real-deal Lebanese, and real-deal delicious. And since it’s not for sale (yet), you’re going to want to make some for yourself to discover your own resounding kid-approval, and to see just how good homemade fruit leather can be.
Apricot-Lime Fruit Leather
Homemade fruit leather is very easy to make, and a great way to use up your abundance of ripe summer fruit. Use this recipe to make leather with most any fruit you like. A Silpat will release the fruit leather with the most ease, but parchment paper can be used instead to line the pan. For thicker leather, double the recipe using the same size sheet pan, and double the baking time. Makes one half sheet pan (18”x13”) of leather.
2 cups pitted, chopped apricots
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup water
1/3 cup agave nectar or granulated sugar
Line a heavy duty sheet pan (18”x13”) with a Silpat or parchment paper. Place a rack in the middle position of the oven, and turn on the oven to the lowest setting, about 140-170˚F.
In a small heavy saucepan, bring the fruit, lime juice, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the fruit begins to break down, add the agave nectar or sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste the mixture after each addition to determine if it is sweet enough. If not, add more agave or sugar.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the fruit mixture for 10 minutes.
Puree the cooked fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth, about a minute. Pour the puree on the lined sheet pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula or back of a spoon, leaving an inch rim.
Bake for about 4 hours, until the leather is mostly dried but still slightly tacky to touch. To roll up the fruit, if using a Silpat, peel the entire sheet of leather off the Silpat and lay it on the same sized sheet of waxed paper before cutting into strips and rolling up; if using parchment, do not remove the leather, and cut into strips then roll up. Eat the leather immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Print this recipe here.