[Photograph: Judi Swinks]
I was rarely given Fruit Roll-Ups as a kid. Instead, my siblings and I were stuck with the healthier, thicker fruit leathers from the natural foods aisle. We often yearned for the pliable texture, bright color, and saccharine flavor of the decidedly fruit-less roll-ups in our friends lunch boxes. Now that I make my own food choices, I honestly prefer the more wholesome choice.
Luckily, Casey Barber’s recipe for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups in Classic Snacks Made from Scratch bridges the divide. By starting with whole ripe strawberries, she guarantees that you’ll end up with true berry flavor. But these roll-ups are not totally virtuous—there’s plenty of sugar in these babies to keep them soft, chewy, and enviably sweet.
Why I picked this recipe: After missing out on these sticky sweets as a kid, I knew I needed to make my own.
What worked: All these needed were a few imprinted shapes to peel and stick all over the kitchen table, and they’d be a dead-ringer for the original.
What didn’t: Pay close attention to the thickness of your jelly when spreading. If you can see through it, it’s too thin and will turn to brittle in the oven. On that note, pay close attention to your oven temp as well. You won’t want it to go any higher than 200°F or you’ll risk over-cooking the fruit.
Suggested tweaks: If you’ve got a dehydrator (lucky you), these will be even easier to make. If not, I was able to hack my oven into going below 200°F by opening and closing the door. I found that a temperature wavering between 175 and 190 worked just fine here. Once you’ve got the technique down, it’d be easy to adapt the recipe to work with just about any jammy fruit. I’m thinking about a peach-blueberry combination come summertime.