Fruit Roll Ups – Strawberry Chia

A simple one that’s worth a little work this week.  I’ve got red on the brain for the next nutrition article and the strawberries were just too beautiful at the store.  Homemade fruit roll ups are going to be more work than store bought, but healthier too and you can even make them with just fruit (or fruit and vegetables)!  I have better final textures from using the dehydrator, but it can be done with an oven as well.  On the texture note, this recipe was based off of Natalie’s recipe at https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/super-yummy-strawberry-chia-fruit-leather/.  Ever since trying it, I’ve loved adding chia seeds to fruit roll ups, it adds crunch and texture and for me it feels a little more substantial than just fruit.  My strawberries were super ripe so I didn’t need much sugar but I do like a little lemon and a bit of sugar to make the flavor pop that much brighter.  If strawberries aren’t your thing, I’ve made fruit roll ups from mangoes (oh my goodness they’re amazing), apple and spinach, as well as pear and apple with black berries.  Definitely a flexible recipe!

Mango fruit roll ups and fruit strips, There are strawberry chia behind as well.

Strawberry Chia Fruit Roll Ups

  • 1 pound of strawberries (I used fresh but frozen should work as well)
  • ½ – 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ – 1 tsp sugar (I used granulated white sugar, but any sweetener should work)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

If drying in the oven, preheat to 200°F.

Rinse, hull, and coarsely chop the strawberries.

Blend until mostly smooth, a blender or food processor should work.  I used my Nutribullet and ended up with 2 cups of thin strawberry puree.

Add lemon juice and sugar to taste, I recommend adding small amounts, blending to integrate, and adding more if the strawberry flavor needs more of a boost.

Once flavor is to your liking, add the chia seeds. I stir them in rather than using the blender.

Pour on to cooking surface and smooth, trying to keep the edges slightly thicker as those will dry the fastest.  For a dehydrator, use silpat or whatever insert came with your machine for liquid mixes.  For an oven, use a silpat mat or baking parchment on a baking sheet.  This stage is very much personal preference, the thicker the puree is, the longer it will take to dry but the chewier the final texture will be.  I tend to go thinner and my oven roll ups end up getting a little crispy, not bad, but not flexible, chewy, and fun.  This is another reason I get better results with my dehydrator…I’m too impatient but I also wander away and forget to watch them when they’re nearly done.  I spread 1 cup of puree across 14×10 inches on the silpat mat for the oven.  It ended up almost completely crispy so maybe don’t spread as thin as I did (or don’t walk away and forget about them).  My dehydrator is an older style, the insert is about 13 inches across in a weird donut shape and I used ¾ cup of puree for that tray.

I dehydrate around 125°F, checking after about 2 hours to see if it’s dry enough to peal off the tray and flip upside down.  I get a more even finish but newer machines may not need that extra step.  My dehydrator is done within 3 hours.  Check the texture and if you aren’t certain, let it cool, check the texture again and restart the dehydrator if it isn’t solid enough for your tastes.

Note for the dehydrator, I am impatient. If you have time, do these at 95-110°F, they will take longer, but you’ll have a much smoother result that’s chewy but not tacky. They many not even need to be flipped. I would if the underside of the middle areas is still quite soft while the rest has firmed up.

Properly spread and slowly dehydrated fruit roll ups.

For baking, I will also try to keep an eye on it by the 1 ½ hour mark, the edges may need to be trimmed before the middle of the pan is finished.  I will try to flip with this cooking method as well, gently peel from the edges, start from a different side if it tears.  If you hit a mushy puddle under the fruit roll up, you can either lay it back down and let it cook longer, or if it’s a small amount carefully use a butter knife or spatula to finish lifting the rest of the fruit roll up and then gently spread the still liquid puree across any thin spots on the flipped roll up.  Generally the oven trays are done within 2 ½ – 3 hours.

I store my fruit roll ups in ziplock at room temperature, that tends to soften the crispy ones a little bit and then the whole batch stays shelf stable for weeks.  You can cut strips with scissors or a knife and roll them into the classic fruit roll up shape (such fun to eat!), or just flat pack whatever shape you end up with.  My donut-esque tray lends itself to pie slices but the crispy bits from the oven tray end up stacked in a little pile of whatever shape they broke into. This batch was spread too thin and ended up looking kind of sad with mostly crispy edges, but I promise you can do better! And if nothing else, they still taste amazing.


Nutrition Thoughts

Chia seeds.  One of my common vegan omega-3 sources, I use them in my granola.  There aren’t enough to significantly increase the protein or healthy fat content, but I feel more satiated with even that small amount to help balance the sugars of the fruit.

Strawberries.  High in fiber as well as antioxidants and other phytochemicals that are beneficial for heart and skin, and anti-inflammatory.  Downside, strawberries are super rich in vitamin C but it is lost as the strawberry liquid is heated.  Dehydrating may maintain slightly more due to the lower temperature, but it looks like vitamin C begins to degrade at temperatures as low as 86°F.  Bottom line grab a box of strawberries to make strawberry fruit roll ups and another box to eat fresh for all that health boosting vitamin C goodness.

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