There was nothing better than sitting on a rock mid-hike and gobbling down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you’re a kid. And while I still love a good peanut butter sandwich, I’ve expanded my repertoire of packable snacks, including these homemade ones: fruit leather, beef jerky and granola bars.
They’re easy, healthy, and make good use of local and in-season ingredients. Try them for yourself. The best part is that, because they’re homemade, you can omit additives like sugar and preservatives as well as change up the flavors to suit your tastes and whims.
1. No-Bake Oat Granola Bars
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup honey
Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Line an approximately 9-inch-square pan with parchment paper. Spread oat mixture into pan and press down evenly. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer. Lift parchment out of pan to remove the pre-cut bars. Cut into 8-12 bars using a pizza cutter or knife. Wrap individually with parchment or plastic. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat; they will become crumbly with time and warmer temps.
Note: Change up flavors by substituting almond butter for peanut butter, walnuts or pecans for pumpkin seeds, raisins for cranberries, and maple syrup or brown rice syrup for honey.
2. Plum Fruit Leather
- 1-1/2 pound ripe plums (approximately 5 medium plums)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to lowest setting (typically 175 to 200 degrees). Pit and puree plums in a food processor or blender. Pour plum puree onto parchment and spread to a thin, even layer using an offset spatula or regular spatula. Bake for 3-5 hours, testing to see if the leather has fully dried; the time will depend on many things, including your oven, the thickness of the layer, and even the humidity in your kitchen. The leather is ready when it’s dry to the touch and can be peeled from the parchment. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into approximately 1-inch strips using kitchen scissors. Roll up each strip and secure using twine or tape.
Note: This basic method will work with many fruits, including apricots, peaches, mango, apples, pears, strawberries and other berries. Buy them in season and dehydrate to preserve.
3. Whiskey Maple Beef Jerky
- 1 pound top round beef or flank steak
- ½ cup whiskey
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup maple syrup
Slice beef into ¼-inch strips. Mix together whiskey, soy sauce, vinegar and maple syrup in a plastic storage bag or glass storage container. Add beef. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours, stirring once or twice to get all pieces fully marinated. Place beef strips in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 165 degrees for about 4 hours. The jerky is ready when it feels dry and will bend but not break. Alternately, you can place strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dry in an oven at lowest setting, typically 175 or 200 degrees. If lowest setting is 200, leave the oven door slightly open. Store jerky in an airtight container at room temperature for about a month. You can also vacuum seal or freeze the jerky for longer storage.
Note: Spice it up by omitting whiskey and using hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Sriracha) for flavor instead. You can also skip the syrup for a sugar-free version.