Pawpaws, that intriguing fall fruit, have gone from relative obscurity to something of a cult classic in recent years. It wasn’t too long ago that most people had never heard of pawpaws; today, we have groves of pawpaws springing up here & there, pawpaw festivals across a dozen or more states, seasonal pawpaw beer… well, you get the idea.
The thing about pawpaws is that they seem to ripen all at once, going from hard and green to meltingly soft and succulently sweet in a few days. Refrigerating pawpaws can slow the ripening process down for a week or two, but that just buys a little extra time. While most of us don’t have pawpaw orchards (or even a single pawpaw tree), if you find yourself with more than a couple of pounds of pawpaws on your hands, you’re going to have eat them all fresh or come up with some way to preserve them for later use.
Old timers used pawpaws in many imaginative ways; pawpaw cookies, cakes, preserves, even ice cream. There’s only one catch; cooking pawpaws destroys many of the subtle and complex compounds that give fresh pawpaws their unique appeal.
Here’s an altogether different way to preserve the delicate flavor of pawpaws that’s both incredibly delicious and a lot of fun – chewy, fruity, rollable pawpaw leather. Pawpaw leather is not only packed with fresh pawpaw flavor, it’s healthy and easy to make – all without preservatives or added sugar.
Our motto: when life gives you pawpaws, make pawpaw fruit leather rollups!
Pawpaw Fruit Leather Rollups
Like other fruit leathers, pawpaw leather is made by pouring pureéd pawpaw pulp onto a flat surface for drying. When dry, the pureéd fruit easily pulls away from the drying surface and can be rolled up for easy storage. The name “leather” comes from the shiny appearance and firm, but pliable texture of the dried fruit, much like that of regular leather.
We used a dehydrator to make our pawpaw fruit leathers. We prefer to use it because air circulates better, taking less time and using less energy. If you don’t own or can’t borrow a dehydrator, you can make fruit leather in the oven. Simply bake at your oven’s lowest setting for 3-4 hours.
This recipe makes two sheets of pawpaw leather. Just multiply the number of pawpaws to make as many as you wish.
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups pawpaw pureé (3-4 ripe pawpaws)*
- Spray canola oil
* Halve the pawpaws and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, discarding the seeds and skin; puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Strain through a fine sieve.
Cover 2 dehydrator trays or baking racks with parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly spray or brush the parchment paper with canola oil.
Pour on 3/4 to 1 cup pureé per tray and carefully spread it out evenly with a spatula. The pureé should be about 1/8″ thick at the center and 1/4″ thick at the edges. The edges must be thicker, otherwise they will dry too quickly and become brittle.
Set the dehydrator thermostat for 135°. If using an oven, use the lowest setting. Place the trays spaced evenly apart so the warm air can circulate freely.
It takes approximately four hours total to finish two fruit leathers. To reduce drying time and promote even drying, flip* the leathers and rotate the trays halfway through the cycle.
(*To flip the leathers, invert a clean tray over the top of the leather. Carefully flip it over and peel off the parchment paper.)
Continue drying until the leather is slightly shiny and not sticky to the touch. Remove from the dehydrator or oven, allow the leathers to cool and peel off the trays.
Roll each leather into a tight cylindrical shape. Wrap snugly in plastic film and keep in a resealable plastic bag. This preserves freshness and keeps out the moisture. Store in a cool, dark place.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
For even more news, information and recipes, sign up for the free Earthy Delights email newsletter.