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"Fruit" leathers are useful to store all the goodness of orchard - and garden! - produce. But, uneven layers of puree result in uneven dehydration. In particular, the edges of the puree dehydrate more quickly than the rest, but I also wind up with thick areas that require significantly more dehydrating time and attention.

Is there a tried and tested method of achieving an even thickness of puree, short of reducing its viscosity to the point that gravity does the work? (A too-thin puree would leak through the drying surface and would take longer to dehydrate.)

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    The idea of a puree thick enough not to leak through a surface surprises me, since most fruits, when pureed, will leak through a grate/mesh. Fruit leather is usually made on a nonstick mat, the ones sold as "permanent baking paper", which is non-leaky.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 25 at 8:05
  • @rumtscho I suspect that it might be worth finishing off on the grate or even cheesecloth, but you'd definitely need to start on parchment, foil, or reusable non-stick liner
    – Chris H
    Apr 25 at 8:39

2 Answers 2

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If the fruit leather will slump somewhat, I would recommend a V-notched spreader from the hardware store or a ‘cake comb’ from a cake decorating or craft store.

It looks like a plastic scraper, but they have a series of notches along the front edge. It allows you to put down a consistent amount per area if you hold the angle of the spreader consistently. (Creating a thickness of roughly half the height of the notch at the angle you’re holding it if the notches are the same size as the material left on the spreader)

After you’ve spread out the purée, you may want to tap the side of the tray or whatever you’ve spread the purée onto to get it to slump and even out any ridges that would’ve been left by the spreader. You may need to take an offset spatula to it if it’s exceptionally thick.

They usually sell for $2-$3 at hardware stores around me; cake combs usually come in sets so might be a higher initial outlay.

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    They also come in plastic for cake decorating - in case anyone wonders about the food safety of hardware store equipment.
    – Stephie
    Apr 24 at 18:48
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    @Stephie : oh right. ‘Cake combs’ for putting patterns in the side of cakes. I’d avoid the square notch ones, though, but I see some online that are shaped to leave a lot of icing ( sort of `/\____/\____/\____/\` with small protrusions on the edge) that would work well for this
    – Joe
    Apr 24 at 19:19
  • Brilliant, Joe. I recently finished a floor tiling project at home, so I should have though of it. Have to keep my fruit puree and tile adhesive straight...!!!
    – Brian K1LI
    Apr 24 at 23:57
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    Yeah, I’d suggest a brand new one for food. Or a cake comb is you want to be sure it’s food safe material.
    – Joe
    Apr 25 at 1:22
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    I don't think any lower viscosity than to allow the use of the spreader is needed. If the puree is sufficiently stiff to keep the ridges, it has more surface area and thus dehydrates faster. And the notches even for the tile laying spreaders are sufficiently small that I'd expect any residual differences in moisture to even out during storage. Apr 25 at 18:41
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I find that spreading with an offset spatula does the trick. There are occasionally slightly thicker and thinner spots...but it is usually not that much of a problem. You will get better with practice.

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    Good idea. Plus I could probably set up "rails" - thick, wooden chopsticks? - along the sides to ensure uniformity.
    – Brian K1LI
    Apr 24 at 17:29
  • @BrianK1LI perhaps, though I assume you want a sheet that is thinner than the height of a chopstick (which are also often tapered). I just eyeball it.
    – moscafj
    Apr 24 at 17:54
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    +1 to using a spatula. But also, a shake or hit to the countertop can help even out the lumps and bumps. I'd potentially, the same advice for getting a flat/even cake would all apply here.
    – AMtwo
    Apr 24 at 18:02

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