Hedgerow Fruit Leather
At this time of year the hedgerow is plentiful with fruits and berries, but not before long this years bounty will soon be past its best and so ways of preserving it so that it may be enjoyed long after the last has fallen from the hedgerow is a great idea.
Fruit leather is a fantastic and simple way to preserve fruit, lasting long past the following years crop, with no loss of flavour and with all the health benefits retained. I have fruit leather five years old that still taste as good as the first day I made it.
Two great combinations that are out right now are haws and crab apples. They work really well together and they both have a high pectin content that will help them set. Pectin is in all fruit and some vegetables in varying levels. It is of higher concentration in young fruit, concentrated in the skins, cores, pith and pips. It becomes released from the fruit upon cooking and when mixed with acid and sugar begins to set.
Haws have amazing health benefits which we discussed in an earlier blog Haws Tincture and making fruit leather with it is a great way to enjoy those benefits throughout the year.
This is what you will need:
1kg Crab apples
Zest & juice of one lemon
300g of honey or granulated sugar
For this recipe you will need equal amounts of haws to apples weight for weight, on this occasion I am using 1kg of each. Upon returning from your forage remove any stalks and foliage to prevent them from finding their way into the fruit leather.
once de-stemmed give your haws a good wash along with the apples too.
I’m using a hybridized apple here as I wanted to note any difference in flavour from the crab apples I used last season. If you have trouble finding crab apples then you can supplement them with cooking apples from your local supermarket. Roughly chop them into 1cm chunks.
Once the apples are chopped add them to the haws in a large pan.
You will need to add a little water before applying the heat, 100ml to every 1kg of fruit used.
With the water added you will now need to apply the heat and stir the mixture together.
You will notice that as the fruit starts to stew the haws loose a little of their colour and the apples brown a little.
Continue to stew for about 25 min and you should see the fruit reduce by half its volume to produce a pulp.
After you have finished stewing the fruit transfer small batches at a time to a sieve and push the pulp through using the back of a spoon. This separates the apple skins, pips and haw stones from the smooth pulp that will become your fruit leather.
With the smooth pulp now in the pan add the zest and juice of one lemon.
Add 300g of honey and stir the mixture together on a low heat. If you prefer you can add granulated sugar instead and continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved.
With the honey the mixture will become a little wetter than if you had just added granulated sugar and you will need to keep stirring until the mixture resembles slow bubbling magma.
Once you have reached the correct consistency place a baking sheet either on your dehydrator or a baking tray. Follow the instructions which came with your dehydrator, and spread the mixture out roughly 2mm thick, mine was placed at 60 degrees centigrade for 12 hours. This may vary according to the thickness of your fruit leather. Alternatively place the baking tray in your oven leaving the door open at its lowest setting for between 12-18 hours
With your fruit leather set you can now cut to suitable portion sizes and enjoy it whenever and wherever you go, why not try other combinations of your own favourite fruit & let us know how you get on.
Reference: River Cottage Handbook No2 Preserves, Pam Corbin, River Cottage Handbook No7 Hedgerow, John Wright