Responding to a perceived lack of information on the subject, a reader contributes her fruit leather recipe and a few other ideas.
I just finished reading all the back issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS—it took a couple of months but I certainly did enjoy them—and I don't remember seeing a fruit leather recipe. Thought you might like one.
The leather is lightweight, chewy and sweet, a good candy substitute. It would be fine for trips (journeys), for backpacking or just for a snack. You can make it of almost any fruit. I've used pear, apple, prune, and plum and want to try banana, cherry, apricot, blackberry, and strawberry in the future.
I wash, core, or pit my home-grown fruit and make it into a sauce in the blender (with just enough water added to keep the pulp from burning). You can spice the puree if you want. Apple butter flavoring is good.
Spread the pulp on a greased baking sheet, set the oven at 150° or as low as it will go and put the pan in with the oven door propped open. Leave it there several hours or until the fruit is tacky to the touch. Then turn the mass over and bake it some more until the second side is also tacky. Let the sheet stand overnight on a cake rack so that the fruit can dry out even more. (In a hot climate like Arizona's, you can dehydrate the sauce outdoors in the sun.)
Next morning, dust the leather on both sides with cornstarch. Tear off a sheet of wax paper a little bigger than the layer of fruit and roll both up together. Tuck in the ends of paper, fasten them with masking tape and date the package. Store the rolls in gallon jars (the kind cafes get their salad dressing in).
Fruit leather will last a long time. If you misplace the container—as I did once for, um... three years—chances are the fruit will still be perfectly good when you find it again. Mine didn't stay around long after that, though.
My daughter made apple juice the other day and used the apple pulp to make leather, a good idea, I thought. I have a Saftborn juicer that steams the liquid out of fruit. The result doesn't have to be frozen, as raw juice does. I just bottle it in recycled beer bottles, cap it, and set it on the shelf.
Oh, yes ... I also want to give you a recipe for sauerkraut I found in an 1850 cookbook:
Wash and drain cabbage, and shred it to fill jars almost to the top. Don't pack too tightly. Work out the air with a silver knife. Place one teaspoon each of white sugar, table salt, chopped onion and dill on top of each jar. Fill the containers to the brim with boiling water, screw on the tops tightly and turn the jars upside down to make sure no air bubbles are present. Let the cabbage stand six weeks before use.
This is called "Pickled Cabbage," really. It's not as "krauty" as sauerkraut. Esther Dickey says in her book, Passport to Survival that corn, peas, shelled lima beans, carrots, cauliflower, beets, turnips, etc., can also be preserved this way. I haven't tried them, but the cabbage sure is good.
Well, I guess I've taken enough of your time ... although I'd appreciate a design for a wood splitter— not an axe—which a woman could use. Sure do enjoy the good info in MOTHER EARTH NEWS. I've thought for a long time that these ole-timey things should be put down and not lost.
Thanks, Dorothy, It's time I ran another article on fruit leather (since canning jars are getting so scarce). However, if you'll check "When to Pick Persimmons and How to Preserve Them," you'll find instructions for air and sun drying persimmon pulp into leather.
And hey! I believe that Garden Way Publishing sells plans for a homemade log splitter. —MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
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