Fruit Leather – for Eating, not for Seating

This is a real mind-blower. With very little effort I’ve transformed two large apples and a plum into something weird and wonderful: Fruit leather. It’s a concept I was first introduced to a few weeks ago on one of my favourite food shows “River Cottage: Winter’s On The Way”, a Channel 4 programme that made its way to Danish television. And thank someone upstairs for that. It’s packed with great ideas for finding and cooking locally grown and cheap produce. But more about that in another post I have planned for you. Today is leather day!

Anyway, there was this lady on the programme showing her tricks of the fruity variety (no, I’m not talking about a Chippendales Musical). And then, in the middle of demonstrating her chutney, she just pulled out a sheet of the most marvelous fruit leather, just to show it, and she never even mentioned a recipe. Bummer! But before I could say “Google!”, a friend of Velbekomme read my mind and posted a link to such a recipe, only, they called it Fruit Roll-Ups. Anyway, seeing as the recipe was meant for a dehydrator (one kitchen-thingamajig I don’t own) I just pinched the idea and adjusted it to my old oven. Only thing is that I used some fruit purée I already had in my fridge, so I’ll try to recall how I made that part, but seeing as it’s just fruit purée, you really can’t mess it up. Here it goes:

Apple & Plum Leather (~1 sheet of leather, and lot of purée to spare)

  • 2 large apples, peeled, de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 large plum, de-seeded and sliced
  • 5 tsp of cane sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 decilitre water

Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and let them simmer until the fruit is soft and the juice has turned into runny syrup. Remove the cinnamon stick from the saucepan and let it cool a bit. Turn the oven on to 60 degrees Celcius and blend the fruit until smooth and the purée is ready. I originally made this for spicing up my morning muesli and that’s why there’s more than plenty for one sheet of leather. I don’t recommend that you do more than one sheet at a time because the water evaporating from the fruit might make the other sheets soggy. And doing them one after the other will take a looot of oven time and electricity which I personally think would be bit perverted.  After all, it’s only fruit. Why not use it in a sponge cake, on your cereal or as a nice side sauce to go with pork and chicken instead?

When the purée is ready, arrange a silicone-sheet (Silpat) on an oven rack (not a plate if you’re using silicone) and spread the fruit out evenly with a large metal spatula or the back of a spoon. Put it just below the middle of the oven and leave it there for about 1 hour, during which you should wipe off the condensation that will probably be forming on the inside of the oven door at least once. Then open the door a tiny bit and keep it so with the handle of a wooden spoon and leave it on for another 60-90 mins. This will speed up the drying process, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t turn crisp. When the surface of the leather is finger-dry, take it out of the oven and remove it from the Silpat. Cut it into 3-4 long strips, roll them up and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. (The recipe recommended wax paper in between but I don’t have any and the container worked just fine.)

And now it’s time to snack! It tastes a lot like dried, chewy apricots but the flexibility and beauty of the material has a lot of promise. I for one am dying to see if I can use it for lining cakes (without too much trouble cutting it) and decorating desserts with interestingly shaped slices of this new foody-fabric.