When I was a kid, I had a passion for fruit roll ups. To be honest, I still do… well I would if they still existed. I used to love unfolding them, pulling back the thin plastic film, and pulling off bites of the smooth yet chewy fruit. It’s like the simplest and most perfect combination of fruit and sugar. Strawberry fruit roll ups as I remember them used to have just the right amount of grainy fruit texture that was balanced by tanginess and sweetness.
Today, a quick look down the “fruit tape” aisle tells me that the genre has been completely given over to bright blue, fruit punch flavored strips of high fructose corn syrup, some of which boast a small amount of fruit juice. Now, you might say, Charlotte, just go to Whole Foods, they have all-natural fruit leathers with no sugar. This is true. But as with so many things in the US, we go from one extreme to the other. On one end are the massively unhealthy frankenfoods and on the other, the fat-free, vegan, gluten-free…frankenfood. Ok, well that’s not exactly the case here, but I don’t really like the kind with no sugar at all and often very little tanginess. Not to mention they often cost over a dollar for about a 3 bite strip. Overpriced if you ask me.
So this brings me to a lovely discovery I made thanks to my sister-in-law’s father who is Syrian. It is Syrian apricot leather and it’s delightful. You can purchase it in most Middle Eastern markets and it costs about $3.50 for a 500g package. It has a nice balance of sweet and tangy, enough real fruit lacing through it, and it’s just as fun to eat as fruit roll ups. I’m not sure if this is something that Syrian children typically eat, but I think if I were Syrian, it would have been a childhood favorite of mine.