Friday, June 29, 2012

How To: Make Natural Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather


I don't know what it is about those fresh little pints of raspberries from Agriberry Farm at our local Farmer's Market, but they always get me in the mood to make fruit leather.
At the end of the season last year, we tried our hands at our first batch of natural homemade fruit leather using apples and these same raspberries. As soon as I saw the raspberries at the market again last weekend I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of the almost over-ripening peaches from our latest Farm Table delivery box. You guessed it — a new batch of raspberry peach fruit leather.

Heck, I even pulled out those cute animal shaped cookie cutters we picked up at Ikea back in March to play around with this go round:


Fruit leather is such an awesome way to use up and save any combination of fruit you have on hand that might be quickly approaching over-ripeness. All I did was pull up the post we did back in October to follow the basic fruit leather recipe, simply switching in a couple peaches for the apples this go round. I'll lay out the steps again here to keep things simple:


Homemade Natural Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather

You'll need:
  • Very ripe peaches, peeled and chunked
  • Very ripe raspberries
  • 1 lemon
  • Water, 1/2 cup for every 4 cups fruit
  • Pinches of allspice & nutmeg
  • Sugar, (optional)
  • Large baking sheet/s
  • Parchment paper
  • Wax paper & twine (optional)
  • Cookie Cutters and Scissors (optional)


Combine peaches and raspberries (or any prepared fruits you prefer) into medium saucepan; 4 cups of fruit makes roughly one baking sheet of fruit leather. Pour in 1/2 cup water for every 4 cups fruit you add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to lowest setting and simmer for about 5 minutes or until fruit has softened considerably.

At this point, add lemon juice, spices and sugar to taste. If deciding to add sugar, go slowly with about a teaspoon at a time until you reach desired taste (the fruits may be sweet enough on their own). The juice from the lemon will not only add a hint of citrus taste to the leather, but will help bring out the brightness of the color. While we used pinches of allspice and nutmeg to season our leather, you can swap in any of your favorite spices to experiment with.


Once fruit has softened, mash by hand with a potato masher until fruit mixture thickens. Continue to simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes, then transfer mixture to blender or food processor and pulse until you get a smooth pureed consistency.


Pour fruit puree onto parchment paper lined baking sheet, then spread out smoothly and evenly to the edges of the parchment paper (the thickness will go down a great deal during the drying process so don't worry if you think your spread looks too thick going in).

 

Place baking sheets in oven on the top racks at your oven's lowest heat setting — ours goes down to 170 degrees in our new house on our gas stove. Now just let it sit and do it's thing. We checked about every hour for 5 hours, then removed from the oven and let cool on the parchment lined baking sheet overnight. 

You'll know your leather is ready when it's still a little tacky to the touch but smooth and not clumping back up on your fingers — it should be sticky but firm. It should peel up freely and easily from the edges of the parchment paper.


At this stage last go round, I simply left the leather on the parchment paper, rolled it up and sliced it into individual rolls — get instructions for doing this here. This time I wanted to play around with different shapes and packaging so I just peeled the entire sheet of leather right off the parchment paper to work with.

I pulled out different shaped cookie cutters to make shapes with and even cut other simple shapes like hearts directly from the leather sheet with kitchen scissors. 


I also cut snack size strips of the leather, rolling them up in wax paper and finishing with a bit of baker's twine for easy unrolling when time for a snack.


Once you've finished cutting shapes and rolling, your fruit leather is ready for eating or storing. We keep ours in an airtight container and store them in the fridge.

  
Here's a funny fact about fruit leather. So long as you're using fruits that aren't harmful to dogs, they can actually make great natural pet treats. We realized Basil would go nuts for a little taste of fruit leather the last time we made it. This time, he just followed me everywhere I went when trying to get good shots of the finished rolls for this post. Here he is below, resting his nose as close to the rolls as possible without touching them while I was trying to shoot:


Basil ended up getting the animal shaped cutouts since he's the biggest baby we have in this house! Speaking of the little ones, this is such a great activity to take on with children and have a tasty, healthy snack at the end to boot! Just think what a fun surprise it could be to slip one of those little animal shapes in with their lunch.

 
I hope we've helped show you how simple it can be to make homemade fruit leather — we're looking forward to trying out new variations on the recipe as new fruits come into season!

9 comments:

  1. I can't even believe how amazing those look! And I love the way you wrapped them up, adorable!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lauren — we have fun being total craft geeks in this house :)

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  2. I'm totally trying this! I had no clue it was so easy. :) I love fruit and these would be perfect snacks to bring to work.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome Jasanna! Let us know if it works out and how you like it — we are hooked on this method!

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  3. what a good doggie! so much self control

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    1. Thanks Kathy — he's our big ham bone!

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  4. Replies
    1. Hey Elly,

      In the fridge ours kept for about one and a half weeks before hardening up!

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  5. Try making these with mangoes. We make them here in India during the summer months and they are delicious! If you make slightly thicker sheets then you can also cut them up into squares, stack the squares, wrap them as sweets and store.

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Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here in our corner of the world.

P.S. Any comments from the animal kingdom will be forwarded to Basil in a timely manner.