I can’t remember now where I came across the idea of fruit leather. It was quite a few years ago for sure and I logged it away for future reference, should I find myself with a large number of apples to deal with. The day came after a customer who is allergic to wasp stings asked for all the apples to removed from her tree and taken away, so we ended up with several compost sacks of them. Some were turned into purée and bottled, I made spicy apple chutney and Karl made some very nice apple wine. All that processing and we still hadn’t used them all, but then I remembered about fruit leather and decided to give it a go.
Looking up what to do, it seemed pretty straight forward so I set to and got peeling. I don’t have pictures of the process, unfortunately, but only of the finished product. Next time I make fruit leather, I’ll take pictures. So, having peeled and cored enough apples to fit into my biggest cooking pot, I cooked them gently until they were puréed as if for apple sauce.
After this, I stirred in a little ground cinnamon, the heat was turned down to its lowest setting and the purée was left to slowly reduce until it turned brown and was thick enough that it didn’t drip off a spoon. When it was good and thick I had a taste and found it a little tart, but a single teaspoon of honey put that right.
I cut grease proof paper to line a baking tray and spread the apple purée to about 0.5cm. The tray went into the oven on its lowest setting and the door was left just ajar. The idea of the oven being on with the door open, even on such a low setting, started to bother me so after a couple of hours I took the trays out and put them in the cupboard where the hot water tank is. Most people would call it an airing cupboard, but it’s tiny and there is only room for one shelf in it so the title of airing cupboard is too fine.
Two days later, the purée had dried to a leathery consistency and could be easily peeled off the paper. I cut some of it into strips, rolled them up and stuck tooth picks through them to hold them. I did try cutting thin strips to tie around the rolls but it was very fiddly and kept breaking so I gave up on that method. On a plate they look very presentable.
The rest was rolled up, still stuck to the paper, sealed in plastic bags and put in a kitchen cupboard where it got forgotten about. I had worried that it might have gone off but when I tried some, a year after putting it away, it tasted as fresh and fruity as it did when it was made and the texture is still pleasingly chewy. Now that we’ve rediscovered it, I cut it into strips and mix them in a bag with nuts to keep the pocket of my work jacket so I can have something to nibble on here and there.