I have been on a fruit leather making kick as of late. It is soooooooo easy to make and it is cleaning out the freezer a bit to make room for some meat to go in there. We were recently going to purchase a side of beef until I had a look see in the freezer and figured we could perhaps fit 20 pounds of meat in, certainly not enough space for half of a steer.
Making leather is a great way to use up some of the many fruits I have frozen that otherwise would likely be forgotten about until next summer when I need room for more fruit and veg. It is not that we do not like our fruit, I just forget about it because of the old, out of sight out of mind thing. The canned jellies, syrups, jams, pie filling and fruit are all on shelves so we use them regularly but the frozen stuff gets forgotten. The leathers will make a nice and healthy addition to the manthings lunches and a great snack to have around the house too.
We only have a solar dehydrator here, but I have learned over time that underneath the wood stove is a great place to put trays of fruits and veggies to dehydrate them in the winter. It does not get too warm but provides a nice steady supply of low heat that does a great job of drying and is as quick as a commercial made dehydrator and its free! Before trying this at home, check and see how warm it is under your stove, for all I know you may be able to roast a turkey under yours.
When I make the leathers, I use frozen fruit. I simply thaw and puree in a food processor or blender.The consistency I like, resembles a thick applesauce. If it is too thin I strain it through a strainer bag for a spell. I use no sweeteners in mine though some folks do. I then spread it on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch thick and place under the stove on bricks. I would not suggest using wax paper, mine stuck to the leather and was tough to get off. Within 24 hours or so I have a nice sheet of leather. I like to rip mine up like jerky and throw in a jar to just grab as needed. You can also roll the sheet either in the wrap or cut in sections, roll and then wrap. It is just a matter of preference. Ours are not meant for long term storage but they can be vacuum sealed and stored like any other product for long term.
I have not tried any of these additions as yet but thought some of them were pretty neat ideas. I really like the idea of the whirled up squash in order to stretch the amount of fruits.
- finely chop nuts to add to the fruit puree.
- adult-flavored fruit leathers, small amounts of fruit brandy or liqueurs (or nut liqueurs) can be added to the puree.
- unflavored (or vanilla) yogurt with a fruit puree.
- add zuchinni 50/50 to the puree for increased yield. The squash picks up the flavor of the fruit while having no flavor of its own
- leave bits and chunks of fruit in the puree
- add spices to the puree to enhance flavor