My plum tree is loaded this year and when this happens, I usually make jam or dry the fruit. One of my favorite ways to use excess fruit is making homemade fruit leather. These sweet and healthy snacks are something my kids loved when they were young, but they are also a great treat to take on hikes, camping or hunting. They store well and since I add very little sugar, they are so much better for you than store-bought versions. I use my food dehydrator, but you can easily make these in your oven. They are simple to put together and are a delicious and healthy treat.

Belle’s Fruit Leather

4 cups of crushed or blended fruit (plums, berries, apricots, peaches)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sugar (optional)

Place the crushed or blended fruit into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to make sure the fruit is smooth. Add the lemon juice and then taste the mixture and add sugar if desired. I usually add about ¼ cup depending on how ripe and tart the fruit is. Spread the mixture in a very thin layer on trays lined with parchment paper (or on the shelf liner for fruit leather with your dehydrator). Cook at 140 degrees for about 6-8 hours, depending on how thick you’ve spread the mixture. The finished leather will no longer be tacky and have a shiny finish. Cut into strips and roll up. Store in airtight containers or freeze.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.