23 Simple Pickling And Canning Recipes

Forget trips to the grocery store for these basic staples; you can make them at home and enjoy them all year long.

October 7, 2016
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Long before effective freezers were available to homeowners, canning was a popular method of preserving food at home. In many areas of the country, canning is still the primary way of storing produce from a bountiful garden. Canning preserves food by using heat to destroy the enzymes and organisms—molds, yeasts, bacteria—that cause spoilage. The containers are then sealed to prevent new organisms from entering. If you follow the procedures recommended by home economists at the United States Department of Agriculture's National Center for Home Food Preservation and described below, your canned foods will be free of bacteria and be very safe to eat.

Related: Canning Parties Combine Good Food With Good Fun

Ready to get started with your own homemade canning, jams, preserves, and pickling adventures? Here's what to do: 

This article was originally published by our partners at Rodale Wellness.

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Roasted Red Peppers

If you plan to keep the roasted red peppers for longer than a week, it's best to marinate them.

Ingredients (makes 1 cup):
4 large red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into flat panels
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the pepper pieces, skin-side up, on a broiler pan and broil four inches from the heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the skin is charred. Remove from the broiler and turn the pieces skin-side down to cool.

2. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and place in a flat dish. Sprinkle with the garlic. Add enough oil to generously coat the peppers. Gently turn to coat. Store in the refrigerator.

3. For marinated roasted red peppers, sprinkle on two tablespoons red wine vinegar when you sprinkle the garlic.

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Pickled Green Peppers

Peter Piper would be proud of you for making these. They're great on sandwiches in place of store-bought pickles.

Ingredients (makes 1 cup):
4 large green bell peppers
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Black pepper

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the pepper pieces, skin-side up, on a broiler pan and broil 4 inches from the heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the skin is charred. Remove from the broiler and turn the pieces skin-side down to cool.

2. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin, cut into ½-inch-wide strips and place in a bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice and oil. Pour over the bell peppers. Season lightly with black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Store in the refrigerator.

3. For spicy pickled peppers, omit the oil and black pepper. Mix the lemon juice with ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and enjoy the antioxidant boost.

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Sweet-Hot Carrot Chips

To cut carrots on the diagonal, hold the knife at about a 45-degree angle to the carrot. A slice created this way will be an elongated oval. Check out these other guilt-free veggie chip recipes that will put potatoes to shame.

Ingredients (makes 2½ cups):
3 carrots
½ cup white or cider vinegar
½ cup water
5 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 dried hot chili pepper, 1 to 2 inches long

1. Cut the carrots on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick slices. In a steamer, cook until crisp-tender, three to four minutes. Rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain and place in an ovenproof glass or earthenware container.

2. In a small nonaluminum saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, honey, garlic, turmeric, and chili pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Pour the hot mixture through a sieve over the carrots to cover them completely. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Store in the refrigerator.

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Pickled Carrot and Mango Sticks

You can use other vegetables in this brine. Reach for shockingly low-calorie foods like cauliflower florets, cucumber spears, or celery sticks.

Ingredients (makes 2 pints):
4 carrots
2 mangoes
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled, plus 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons coarse salt

1. Cut the carrots into narrow four-inch-long sticks. In a medium pot of boiling water, blanch the carrots for two minutes. Immediately immerse in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and place in a large heatproof glass bowl.

2. Cut the mango cheeks off the pits (save trimmings to eat later). Score the mango flesh (still in the peel) into long, thin strips (similar in size to the carrots). With a spoon, scoop the mango slices away from the skin. Add the mangoes to the carrots along with the whole garlic cloves.

3. In a small nonaluminum saucepan, combine the minced garlic, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, and bring just to a boil. Pour over the carrots and mango sticks. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate one hour (or longer) before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

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Red-Pickled Eggs

To serve the eggs, cut them into slices or halves and arrange on a bed of lettuce with the beets.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups sliced cooked red beets
4 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled

1. In a small nonaluminum saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, allspice, and ginger, and bring just to a boil. Place the beets in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot pickling mixture over them and set aside to cool.

2. When cool, add the eggs and refrigerate overnight. Shake the bowl occasionally so the eggs will color evenly. Store in the refrigerator.

 
 
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Bread and Butter Pickles

Homemade pickles are a cinch to make—simply boil the dressing, toss with the cucumbers, and chill until crisp. You can substitute an equal amount of store-bought pickling spice for the spices.

Ingredients (makes 4 cups):
4 kirby cucumbers (1 pound), cut into ¼-inch slices
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup coarse salt
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Put the cucumbers, onion, garlic, and salt into a colander set over a large bowl and toss well. Let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse and drain, and transfer to a large heatproof bowl along with the dill.

2. Meanwhile, in a nonaluminum saucepan, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric, and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber mixture, stir, and let cool. Store in the refrigerator.

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Preserved Lemons

Traditionally, preserved lemons take a couple of weeks to make, but here the freezing and thawing help to hasten the process. They have both a sweet and briny taste and can be used the way you would use olives or capers. Try some in chicken salad or lamb stew. A little bit goes a long way, so try a small piece before adding more.

Ingredients (makes 24 wedges):
⅔ cup coarse salt
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks (2 inches)
¾ cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)

1. Cut a small slice from the stem and blossom ends of the lemons. Stand the lemons upright and, starting at the top, but without going through to the bottom, cut each into eight wedges. Open the lemons like a flower and sprinkle with the salt. Place in a freezer bag or in an airtight freezer container. Add the bay leaves, coriander, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Tightly seal and freeze for two days. Remove from the freezer and thaw at room temperature. Then return to the refrigerator for longer storage.

2. To use, remove one or more of the wedges and rinse to remove excess salt. Chop as much of the peel with fruit attached as you like.

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Tomato Confit

In the wintertime, use tomatoes that have been ripened for several days in a paper sack.

Ingredients (makes 36 pieces):
18 plum tomatoes, peeled
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme
¾ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Lightly oil two rimmed baking sheets. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and place, cut-side up, on the baking sheets. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Bake the tomatoes for five to six hours, until they are dried about halfway through (they should shrink but still be moist).

2. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. Layer the tomatoes in a storage container, such as a jar, and pour the oil from the baking sheets over them. Store in the refrigerator.

 
 
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Spicy Ketchup

Making ketchup is a great way to use up extra tomatoes from the garden.

Ingredients (makes 2 pints):
1 small red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into flat panels
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cup cider vinegar
6 pounds tomatoes (15 to 17 medium), peeled and sliced
¾ cup chopped onion
6 tablespoons turbinado or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the broiler. Place the pepper pieces, skin-side up on a broiler pan and broil four inches from the heat for 12 minutes, or until the skin is completely charred. Remove from the broiler and turn the pieces skin-side down to cool. Peel the peppers.

2. Tie the cinnamon, garlic, and cloves in a small square of cheesecloth. Place in a small nonaluminum saucepan along with the vinegar. Simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the spices.

3. Meanwhile, in a large nonaluminum pot, combine the tomatoes and onion. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add the roasted bell pepper and puree. Strain the puree to remove the tomato seeds. Transfer to a large saucepan and stir in the brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced by one-half. Add the spiced vinegar, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for five minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

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Chili Sauce

Tomato-based chili sauce can be a bit hard to find these days, now that there are so many hot sauce options on the market. If you want to be sure of having some on hand, make it yourself.

Ingredients (makes 8 or 9 pints):
8 pounds tomatoes (about 25 medium), peeled and sliced
2 cups chopped red bell peppers
2 cups chopped red onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh serrano peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons celery seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
3 cups vinegar
½ cup honey

1. In a large nonaluminum pot, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, serranos, salt, ginger, and black pepper.

2. Tie the celery seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaf, and cinnamon in a small square of cheesecloth. Add to the tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by one-half, two to three hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Discard the spice bag. Add the vinegar and honey. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook five minutes.

3. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

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Peach Jam

Tapioca flour, which is available in Asian markets, is a thickener that turns translucent when cooked.

Ingredients (makes 3 pints):
4 pounds peaches
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup mild honey, or more to taste
¼ cup tapioca flour or starch

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the peaches a few at a time and boil for 45 seconds (slightly longer if the peaches aren't ripe). Immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Peel, pit, cut into large chunks, and place in a food processor. Add the lemon juice and pulse on and off to coarsely grind.

2. Transfer the peach mixture to a 6- to 8-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook until the peaches are very soft. Slowly stir in the honey, blending well. Add more honey if desired. Continue stirring and return to a full rolling boil. Add the tapioca flour and cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

 
 
jelly
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Strawberry Jam

Use locally grown strawberries in season.

Ingredients (makes 1½ pints):
4 cups crushed fresh strawberries
½ cup orange blossom honey
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or starch
2 tablespoons water

1. In a large saucepan, bring the berries, honey, and maple syrup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-third. You should have three cups. Dissolve the tapioca flour in the water. Stir into the berries and cook just until the mixture thickens. Do not overcook.

2. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

apple jelly
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Apple Jelly

Slightly underripe or tart apples tend to have the most pectin, but use at least one pound of sweeter, riper apples for the best flavor to keep the jelly from being too tart. If you want to make this with sugar, the proportions will be the same: ¾ cup for every cup of juice.

Ingredients (makes 1½ cups):
4½ pounds apples
Honey

1. Remove the stems and dark spots from the apples. Quarter but do not peel or core. Place in a 6- to 8-quart pot with just enough water to half cover and cook over low heat until very soft, about one hour. Strain the mixture through a jelly bag. You will get more juice if you squeeze the bag, but it will make a cloudy jelly.

2. Measure the juice and pour into a large saucepan. Add ¾ cup of honey for every cup of juice. Boil until a good jelly test is obtained.

3. Ladle into hot sterilized jelly glasses, adjust the seals and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

4. For mint jelly, just before removing the apple jelly from the heat, add a few mint leaves (about ¼ cup mint leaves to 1 quart juice). Stir, remove the leaves, and ladle into jars as directed.

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Sweet Cherry Conserve

Domestically grown sweet cherries are available for a fairly short time in the beginning of the summer.

Ingredients (makes 4 pints):
4 oranges, unpeeled, well scrubbed
2 cups water
8 cups pitted sweet cherries
1½ to 2 cups honey, to taste
¾ cup lemon juice
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups pecan halves

1. Slice the oranges thinly and remove the seeds. Place the orange slices in a large nonaluminum saucepan and add the water. Cover and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cherries, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the nuts.

2. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

 
 
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Ginger + Pear Conserve

Seckel pears are a small variety with a thick skin, often used for canning.

Ingredients (makes 1½ pints):
3 pounds Seckel pears (21 to 24), peeled and sliced
½ orange, unpeeled, sliced and seeded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Place half the pears in a food processor along with the orange and pulse to coarsely chop. Transfer to a large saucepan.

2. Tie the ginger in a small square of cheesecloth and add to the saucepan. Add the remaining sliced pears, the honey, and lemon juice. Cover, bring slowly to a simmer, and cook until the pears are tender. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the desired consistency is reached.

3. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

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Baked Apple Butter

There's nothing like homemade apple butter spread on toast, pancakes, waffles, or muffins (try these other flavored butter recipes you can make at home). It's also delicious mixed into yogurt or on top of cottage cheese. This is a good project if you have access to a pick-your-own apple place.

Ingredients (makes 4 pints):
18 pounds apples
8 cups water
1½ cups honey
Juice and grated zest of 3 lemons
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Core and quarter the apples. Place in two 10- to 12-quart pots or one canning kettle and add the water. Simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the apple pulp through a food mill or coarse-mesh strainer and pour back into the original pot (if it is ovenproof) or a roasting pan. Add the honey, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Bake, stirring occasionally, until very thick, several hours or perhaps overnight, depending on how thick you want it.

3. When thick enough for your taste, ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

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Peach Butter

Blanch the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds to loosen their skins before peeling.

Ingredients (makes 1½ pints):
6 cups sliced peeled peaches
¾ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
10 whole cloves
2-inch stick of cinnamon
1¼ cups honey

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed nonaluminum saucepan, combine the peaches, water, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer until the peaches are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree. Return to the saucepan.

2. Tie the cloves and cinnamon in a small square of cheesecloth and add to the pan. Cook over low heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until it reaches the thickness you would like. Remove the spice bag. Stir in the honey.

3. Ladle into clean, hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Adjust the seals and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. When cool, check the seals.

4. For nectarine butter, use nectarines (no need to peel) instead of the peaches and four allspice berries instead of the cloves.

 
 
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Sweet Spiced Pumpkin Butter

Fall is all about the pumpkin spice recipes. Use pumpkin butter in much the same way as you would use apple butter. This recipe makes a small amount and can be stored in the refrigerator.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup packed turbinado or light brown sugar
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon

1. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, ginger, and cinnamon. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick enough to spread like jam, 25 minutes.

2. Ladle into sterilized ½-pint jars. Store in the refrigerator.

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Apricot Butter

Perfect on a piece of toast, or slathered on bread as part of a cheese, pork, turkey, or chicken sandwich.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
1 cup dried apricots
1 navel orange, peeled, any seeds removed, cut into large chunks
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dark honey, such as buckwheat
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the apricots, orange, water, honey, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are tender and the water has all been absorbed, about 45 minutes.

2. Transfer to a food processor, add the lemon juice and puree until smooth.

3. Ladle into sterilized ½-pint jars. Store in the refrigerator.

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Fresh Strawberry Preserves

In this unusual refrigerator preserve, gelatin is used to firm up the mixture.

Ingredients (makes 4 cups):
2 cups water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups sliced strawberries
⅓ cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Pour one cup of the water into a large saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for five minutes to soften.

2. In a blender, puree half the strawberries with the remaining one cup water, the honey, and the lemon juice. Stir into the gelatin in the saucepan. Add the remaining sliced berries. Heat just to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Ladle into sterilized ½-pint jars and refrigerate. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

 
 
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Sour Cherry Preserves

The sour cherry season is fleeting unless you happen to live in an area where they are grown, but the water-packed bottled cherries are a fine substitute.

Ingredients (makes 1 cup): 
2 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh or jarred (water-packed)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, vinegar, pepper, allspice, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the cherries are very tender and the mixture has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Pack into a sterilized ½-pint jar. Store in the refrigerator.

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Cranberry-Cherry Preserves

Since cranberries and sour cherries are available fresh in completely different seasons, one or the other will have to be frozen or jarred—but after it's all cooked down, you won't know the difference.

Ingredients (makes 4 cups):
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 ½ cups pitted sour cherries, fresh or jarred (water-packed)
1 lime, unpeeled, coarsely chopped and seeded
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice

1. In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, cherries, lime, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the berries pop and the preserves are very thick, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Ladle into sterilized ½ pint or pint jars. Store in the refrigerator.

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Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is fruit pulp that is dried to form a naturally sweet, confection-like food that will keep in good condition for one year or more. Fruit leather can be made from almost any fruit or any combination of fruits.

Ingredients (makes 4 pieces, 10 x 15 inches):
8 pounds apricots, peaches, or nectarines, pitted
1½ cups pineapple juice
¼ cup honey, or more to taste
2 teaspoons almond extract (optional)
Cornstarch or arrowroot for dusting

1. In a large, heavy nonaluminum pot, combine the fruit and pineapple juice. Cover and cook over low heat until soft. Pour the fruit into a sieve set over a bowl. Drain the fruit well, lifting it from the sides of the sieve to let all the juice run out freely. The more juice strained out, the quicker the process of leather making. (Can or freeze the juice for later use, or drink it fresh.) Put the drained fruit through a food mill or a coarse-meshed sieve to remove the skins. Sweeten with the honey and add the almond extract (if using). The pulp should be as thick as apple butter or more so.

2. On lightly oiled baking sheets or on baking sheets lined with freezer paper or plastic wrap, spread out the fruit pulp so that it is ¼ inch thick. If it's much thicker than this, it will take very long to dry. Place the baking sheets in an oven or a food dryer. If using an oven, turn the control to warm (120 degrees) and leave the oven door slightly open to allow moisture to escape. (The pulp should dry in about 12 hours in the oven.) 

3. When the leather is dry enough to be lifted or gently pulled from the baking sheets, place it on wire racks so that it can dry on both sides. When all the stickiness has disappeared, dust lightly with cornstarch. Then stack in layers with freezer paper, waxed paper, or foil between each layer. Cover with freezer paper, waxed paper, or foil and store in a cool dry place.

For apple leather, use eight pounds of apples, and apple cider instead of pineapple juice. Omit the almond extract and add a bit of cinnamon if desired. Before cooking the apples, core them, cut them into large chunks, and coarsely shred them in a food processor. Cover and cook over low heat until soft.

Adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook