09 Aug What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather
What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a mouldy heap before dinner? I usually peel and eat them on the spot, dripping juice over the sink. Okay, then what do you do with the ten remaining peaches? You can bake them into a cobbler, spoon them over shortcake, fold them into muffins, feature them in upside-down cake, freeze them, or … You can try out that fancy new dehydrator you just bought and make fruit leather.
“Another gadget?!” you ask in an accusing tone. Yes, another gadget, and a handy one at that. In my defence, I blame the food. And my oven. If the food wasn’t so good I wouldn’t want to preserve it. And if my new range was designed by a cook and not an engineer, I could dry tomatoes and other goodies from my garden in the oven. But my new high-end, uber-sensitive cooker gives nothing but error messages for any setting under 175°F. So much for dried herbs.
In an act of defiance I bought a dehydrator. And I’m loving it.
After setting it to 135°F I dried cherries (addictive), blueberries (intoxicating) and strawberries (surprisingly disappointing – must fiddle with this). I dialled things down to 95°F and turned fresh lemon verbena and chocolate mint into herbal tea. Encouraged by my successes, I just had to test-drive the insert for fruit leather.
Have Dehydrator Will Leatherize
Yes, you can make fruit roll-ups in a regular oven using a rimmed baking pan lined with a silicone mat, but I had to justify my purchase. The only issue with the dehydrator is the shape. It’s round. You don’t get nice long strips. You get wedges. So I rolled them like croissant dough. No one complained.
I thought fruit leather was just for kids. But my batch disappeared thanks to the 40+ crowd. I even found myself wandering into the kitchen for “just one more strip.” This recipe, with its ginger and vanilla, never got tested on a child. I think the collective age of the testers was 193. Will kids like it? I hope not. I don’t think the adults around here want to share.
- 4 cups ripe peaches
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (optional)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Line 2 dehydrator trays with fruit leather sheets lightly coated with vegetable oil. Set dehydrator according to manufacturer instructions. Mine has a “fruit” setting at 135°F.
- Line a large rimmed baking pan with a silicone mat. Preheat oven to its lowest setting (usually 140 to 175°F).
- Peel and chop peaches, removing bruises and soft spots. Purée the peaches, lemon juice, ginger, vanilla and honey in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste. Add more honey if needed. A lot depends on how sweet your peaches are to begin with, so go by taste.
- Pour fruit purée onto prepared sheets / pan to about ¼-inch thick. Spread with a spatula if the fruit purée doesn’t self-level. Save left-over purée for a smoothie. Resist the temptation to pour extra-thick purée. The leather will crack and not dry out properly.
- Cook, undisturbed for 6 to 12 hours, or until the fruit is dry to the touch yet pliable.
- While still warm, turn the fruit leather onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Cut it into wedges (for dehydrator trays) or strips (for baking pan), roll and store in an airtight container. I have no idea how long it keeps since all the roll-ups were eaten within 2 days.