Today we made apple fruit leathers from scratch. I've wanted to try them for awhile and they were both easier and harder than I anticipated.
I followed the recipe that's in my La Leche League cookbook, Whole Foods For The Whole Family. The ingredients are: 1- 1 1/2 pounds (or more) ripe fruit and 1 T to 1/4 C water, if needed (I didn't add any)Optional ingredients: 1 T. to 1/2 C. honey, ground spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves or ginger, and flavorings such as vanilla, grated lemon rind or grated orange rind.
For softer fruits it said to peel (peaches, plums etc.) but for harder fruits (apples, pears) the recipe said to leave them unpeeled. I was semi skeptical about this so I peeled half of the apples - knowing that there are so many nutrients there but not wanting the flavor tainted! (Tasted fine BTW.) After coring and cutting into chunks I boiled them with about half an inch of water until fork tender. (With softer fruits you can skip the boiling step.)
Puree with skins in blender or food processor cool and force through a sieve. I don't have a sieve that I thought would work plus I just thought that it wasn't necessary as the puree was an applesauce consistency - like the instructions said.:) Add options to taste...I used cinnamon, honey, vanilla and allspice.
All is going well so far but here was where the hard part began.
Line one baking sheet or drying screen with heavy plastic wrap securing corners. Spread puree 1/8 inch thick on prepared surface. Dry in food dehydrator or outside in the sunshine (cover with cheesecloth to protect from insects) on warm days, bring inside at night. May dry in a gas oven with pilot light or electric oven heated occasionally to 120- 140 degrees; open door periodically to let out moisture. May also use the top of a wood stove or the rear window of a closed car parked in the sun.(seriously it says this) Dry for 1-2 days or until no wet or sticky spots remain.
I had read somewhere else to oil the baking sheet instead of using plastic wrap so I did one tray of each. Spreading the fruit very thin was a bit difficult with a 2 year old trying to help. Once Daddy occupied him it was somewhat easier! It was also easier to spread on the oiled sheet, the plastic wrap even though it was secured to the sides would slide on the bottom of the pan which made it a bit more frustrating. Plus I'm not the biggest fan of having soft plastic like that right next to my food in a warm place where it could potentially leach into the food.
All that being said and done when I went to put them into my electric oven I found out the lowest temp that mine has is 170 degrees. I thought it would be ok :)! Really it was ok but I think I should have just let it heat up and then turned the oven off, cracked the door ajar and the oven light would have provided enough heat. I left the oven on for almost an hour (cracking occasionally to let steam excape), then I turned the oven off - left it closed and we went to a friends for dinner. When we got home a couple hours later the pan that was only half way filled was done...actually overdone. Around the edges it became a fruit brittle, which tasted good but it wasn't what I was really going for. The pieces tasted great this morning on top of oatmeal and I'm sure they'll make a great topping for granola too.
The second tray still had large wet spots last night so I just took it out of the oven and covered it on the counter to continue in the morning. I heated the oven (slightly) put it in and left the door ajar while we went to church. When we got home it was done.
They taste good but I think next time I'll spread the mixture a bit thicker, when dry these are paper thin. All in all it was a really good learning experience and I plan to make some more with some frozen peaches and pumpkin (since I have both in the freezer still) to see how those turn out. (For pumpkin it says puree cooked pumpkin, add options and proceed as directed.)
For storage it says to roll and store in an airtight container in cool dry place, can refrigerate or freeze for long term storage. Oh, here we go...if fruit becomes brittle sprinkle on celery? or yogurt.
Really they weren't as time consuming as reading this wordy post!LOL!!!! Just have to get the knack of drying them! Since it's challenge week at Stop the Ride! I'll be submitting this for Stephanie's carnival be sure to head over there on Tuesday and see what all the other participants made from scratch!!!