Jeff and I decided to sit down a little earlier and go through our recipe sections to pick out some of our favorite recipes to post - but once we started scrolling through and figured out we have taken pictures and posted about 1,690 recipes, we figured there was no way that was going to happen. That's at least one new recipe every single day for 4 years straight! Craziness. Will we make it to five years? I'm not sure, though I do know I can't wait to find out.
Other than that news, it is a fairly busy day today... but I do want to take some time to share another treat we made with our bounty of fresh strawberries! When Jeff and I were going over our options on what we should do with them, the dehydrator came up - we thought about drying the berries themselves, but then decided on making Strawberry Fruit Leather!
There actually isn't much to this at all and it is surprisingly easy, with quite the short ingredient list to boot! It can also adapt to several variations, allowing you to choose what direction you want the flavor to be.
With our first batch, we were looking for just the pure essence of strawberry, so the only ingredients we used were strawberries, honey and a pinch of Fruit Fresh. Fruit Fresh is basically ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and is used in home canning to retain color - this is what I use when I make dried banana chips to keep them from browning. If you can't find this in your market, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice would be a good substitute. Honey isn't there to sweeten the leather, especially important since our strawberries are plenty sweet already, but it helps keep the final product pliable.
Pureed until smooth, we poured the ruby sauce onto our dehydrator's fruit roll-up sheet and set it on the machine to dry. After a few hours and a few peeks later to check on the progress, the puree was finally leathery and not sticky to the touch anymore - which meant it was ready! Chewy and full of potent strawberry flavor, we decided that the crunchiness from the tiny seeds was a plus and were glad we opted to leave them in. Straining them out is an option though if you wanted an extra-smooth leather.
We tore through the first fruit leather in no time and it didn't take us long to make another batch. Three more, in fact! We made another simple strawberry version, but then saved a handful of the berries out of the next two and replaced them with a ripe banana in one and applesauce in the other. We didn't measure for this, but we took out roughly a half cup of strawberries and added the same amount of the other two fruits. I did find that those two needed an extra hour or so to dry and while the flavor change was pretty subtle with strawberry still dominate, the banana and apple did come through in both taste and aroma! You can store them rolled up as sheets between parchment paper, but how about breaking out the cookie cutters to start stamping out shapes? Which, by the way, could be a fun and an edible activity for the kiddos - can you tell Gus had a say in what shapes we chose?!
Basic Strawberry Fruit Leather