Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to Make Fruit Leather

Preserving fruit to enjoy later is a great way to enjoy your harvest year round. I like to bottle, freeze, dry and even make fruit leather. Fruit leather is a great option if the peaches are small, bruised or over ripe because you blend them up and it doesn't affect the look or the taste of it. It is also a great snack to take on the go. I just made some peach leather this week and this is what I did:
  1. I peeled all the peaches and cut off any bad parts and took the pits out.
  2. Drop them into a blender and filled the blender up, then when it was full, ran it on high until it was all blended up.
  3. The peaches I was using were not the sweetest peaches, so I added a few ripe bananas to soften the flavor and a really small amount of sugar, you can add honey or agave nectar to sweeten it up a bit. Be careful not to add too much as there is quite a bit for natural sugar in the peaches already. You can even do it without sweetener, but it depends on how sweet the peaches are already. Most the time I do not add sweetener, but this time I felt like the peaches needed a little help.
  4. Peaches need to be heated to 190 degrees F before you dry it to kill any bacteria that might be in it. So I poured it all into a big pot and heated it up right about when it starts to boil is when it reaches that temperature. You do not need to keep it at that temperature for long so I turned off the heat when the thermometer reached 190 degrees F. Be sure to stir constantly as you do not want it to burn.
  5. Before putting the fruit leather in the dryer you might want to line it with parchment paper or if you have trays specifically for fruit leather than get those out and ready. If drying on a pan in the oven it is essential to line it with parchment paper so that it is possible to get it off after.
  6. Next you can pour it into the tray for the dryer or if you do not have a dryer, an oven works just fine too. I used my oven this time because my dryer no longer works. If you have a dryer set the temperature for 135 degrees F checking a few times that day. It is done when no longer comes off on your finger when you tap the lightest spots. When using the oven set it for the lowest setting possible if it doesn't go down to 135 degrees F. My oven only went to 170 degrees F and it worked just as well.
  7. It took a good part of the day to dry and if you are putting it in closer to evening, it will most likely take over night to finish.
  8. I like to cut it up in strips and roll it up for easy on the go use. Then store in an air tight container like a baggie, bottle or Tupperware to prevent over drying. Use it up quickly within a few months as it doesn't store long, but you can also put it in a deep freezer for better longer term storage.
This would work for most fruits, do not be afraid to mix fruits in the leather, it makes nice interesting flavors. I would like to know if anyone has found some great mixes of fruits for fruit leather. Leave a comment and let me know!

As always, Happy Gardening!

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