Welcome to week 34 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a Learning Moment that brings learning to life in the kitchen.
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In this week’s edition of Kitchen Classroom, kids will tackle a Weekend Project making their very own Triple-Berry Fruit Leather from scratch! Since it takes a few (hands-off) hours to make, the weekend is the perfect time to tackle this project from our most recent cookbook, The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs. In this week’s Learning Moment, kids will practice their observation skills as the fruit leather cooks, discovering how it transforms from fresh, juicy fruit to a chewy snack through the power of science. And in Take It Further, kids can put on their engineering hats to imagine how they would break a world record for the Longest. Fruit Snack. Ever.
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Here’s what’s cooking for the week of August 23rd through 29th, 2021.
Weekend Project: Triple-Berry Fruit Leather
By harnessing the power of evaporation, kids can transform juicy, summer-ripe berries into a classic lunchbox snack. Dehydrating the berry puree in a low oven creates fruit leather with concentrated flavor and a chewy, satisfying texture. You can use either fresh or frozen-and-thawed berries in this recipe, and you can substitute 4 cups hulled and chopped strawberries or 4 cups raspberries if kids would prefer to make plain Strawberry or Raspberry Fruit Leather instead of Triple-Berry.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
4 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries—strawberries hulled and chopped)
2 large Granny Smith apples (8 ounces each), peeled, cored, and chopped
¼ cup sugar
Science (Analyzing and Interpreting Data, States of Matter):
As kids prepare their ingredients, ask them: How do you think fruit turns into fruit leather? What will happen over time as these fruits go from raw to cooked? How will they change, and why do you think that is?
Explain to kids that they’ll be practicing their skills of observation as they make their fruit leather today to discover the answers to these questions. Have kids follow these steps as they cook to conduct their investigation:
- At the beginning of step 4, have kids place the saucepan and strainer on a kitchen scale and tare the scale to zero. Have kids strain the berry mixture into the saucepan as directed and weigh the puree in grams, writing down their result.
- Ask kids to observe the berry mixture in the pan. How would they describe the appearance, color, and texture of the mixture? Ask them to record their observations with describing words.
- In step 6, have kids place the liquid measuring cup on the scale and tare the scale to zero before adding the cooked puree. If it measures 2 cups, have kids record the weight of the puree in grams and record their result. (If it’s over 2 cups, continue cooking as directed in the recipe and weigh it again when it reaches 2 cups.)
- Ask kids: Has the weight changed since your last observation? Why do you think that is?
- Ask kids to observe and describe the cooked berry mixture. How would they describe the appearance, color, and texture now? Has anything changed from their last observation? Ask them to record their observations.
- After the fruit leather has been baked, cooled, and cut into strips in step 9, have kids place a bowl on the scale, tare the scale to zero, and weigh the strips in grams one more time. (It’s okay to weigh it with the parchment paper attached; its weight is minimal.)
- Ask kids: What changes occurred while the fruit leather was in the oven? How would you describe the fruit leather’s final color, appearance, and texture? How would you explain the changes you observed over time?
Kids should have observed that the fruit puree transformed from watery and loose before cooking, to thick and spreadable after cooking on the stovetop, to solid and dry after baking in the oven, decreasing in weight over time. Explain to kids that this is due to evaporation. The mixture started out with lots of liquid in it from the berries and apples (fresh fruits contain lots of water!). As it heated up on the stovetop, some of that liquid evaporated as a gas (known as steam), disappearing into the air. Even more liquid evaporated in the oven, leaving behind a solid sheet of fruit leather.
Take It Further
Science and Engineering Practices (Developing and Using Models, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions):
Share with kids that one particularly popular form of fruit snack in the United States is Fruit by the Foot. Each snack is packaged in a tight roll, and when unrolled, it stretches out to 3 feet long! Recently, some students who are training to become chefs at the Culinary Institute of America (also known as the CIA, but not that CIA!), worked on creating their own recipe for Fruit by the Foot. They wanted to break the Guinness World Record for the world’ s longest fruit snack, currently held by a group of people in Canada who made one that was 300 feet long!
Check out pictures and a description of the design made by the current world record holders here, and a video of the CIA students engineering their own recipe here. After looking at the pictures and video, ask kids: How would you try to make the world’s longest fruit snack? What tools and ingredients would you need to make it happen? How long do you think you could make it? If kids are inspired, have them sketch their designs and figure out step by step how they’d go through the process of breaking the world record.
There’s no word yet on whether the CIA students will use their recipe and method to attempt to break the record, but keep an eye out for any fruit-snack-related news!
On sale August 2021 Ocean Box
Explore the ocean in the September edition of our Young Chefs’ Club! Kids will discover the power of seaweed by rolling their own vegetarian sushi (the mat is included!), make the most amazing fish tacos they’ll ever eat, or try our One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp Pasta. For dessert, use just a touch of salt to heighten the flavor of our Salted Butterscotch Milkshakes. Plus kids can play a fun ocean-themed card game included in the box. This box is on sale throughout August and arrives in September.