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Fruit Leathers

VegetarianVeganDairy FreeGluten Free

These chewy curls of fruity goodness are especially popular with kids. They’re very simple to make and a great way to use up any wild pickings that are not in the best condition. Use whatever fruit is available – the quantities given here are just a guideline – but try to include a good proportion of pectin-rich hawberries, crab apples or unripe blackberries, which will help the puréed fruit pulp to set. The rolled leathers will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Makes : About 250g
Prep : 10 mins
Cook : 1 hour, plus 2 days to dry
  • About 1kg of fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, oregon grapes, damsons or sloes, including at least 200g crab apples, hawberries and/or unripe blackberries
  • Sugar, to taste

Method

  1. Wash the fruit thoroughly. Roughly chop the apples, stone and chop the damsons and put all of the fruit in a large, heavy-based pan. Add about 80ml water, just enough to stop the fruit sticking, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour, stirring now and then, until the fruit is soft and broken down. If it starts to stick to the pan, add a little more water.
  2. Transfer the cooked fruit to a sieve and push through as much of the pulp as you can. (Alternatively, use a mouli* – it’s quicker and more efficient)
  3. Rinse out the pan, then put in the strained pulp and add sugar to taste. This will vary, depending on the sourness of the fruit used, but reckon on somewhere around 100g for the quantities specified here. Heat the mixture and stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer gently until the pulp has a thick, coating consistency.
  4. Spread the pulp in the centre of two large baking sheets, aiming to make a smooth, even layer no thicker than 3mm. Tent the trays with muslin and leave them somewhere warm and breezy to dry out for a couple of days. Alternatively, leave them overnight in a low fan oven (set to about 50˚C), or in a dehydrator until set. To see if the mixture is ready for rolling, check in the middle and in any thicker parts to see whether everything is properly set.
  5. Cut the trays of dried pulp into roughly 3cm strips and roll them up. Store the rolls in an airtight container in the fridge.

Notes

*A mouli is a hand-cranked food mill, which simultaneously purées and strains as you rotate the handle. It’s an excellent bit of kit for anyone intending to process large quantities of seeded fruit to make ketchups, jellies, cheeses, curds and the like. As well making short work of removing pips and fibrous matter, a mouli is much more effective at extracting every last drop of pulp than by spoon and sieve alone.

Credits

Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise

COMMENTS

6 comments for Fruit Leathers

  1. Ian Howes says:

    Has anyone tried keeping fruit leathers by vacuum bagging or in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, rather than in the fridge?
    How long do they keep for?

    1. Paul says:

      I have made Hawthorn leathers over 5 years ago and are still good to go just from being in a jar….

  2. Alice says:

    can we have some advice about how to prepare the haws, please?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Haw leathers can be made by simply mashing the haws with your hands or a potato masher and squeezing them through some muslin to remove the seeds and bits and leaving the resulting mixture for a few minutes to set.
      If mixing with other fruit, boil and just add the haws pips and all and sieve to remove the pips before leaving to set.

  3. Ann Morrison says:

    Hi Eric,
    I made two trays of leathers after attending your foraging course this March in Edinburgh. Your leathers were delicious! I eventually managed to dry the leathers out in the oven, however, I didn’t pack them immediately and the next day they were again sticky to touch. Have you any tips regarding oven temperature and packing? I did wonder if I’d made them too thick? They dried out to a thickness of 2-3mm.
    I have also made Rowan and apple jelly using white sugar. Either white or brown could be have been used, but I’m wondering if there’s any other ingredient I can add to adjust the flavour or maybe this jelly is an acquired taste.
    Thanks,
    Ann M

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Ann,
      Some of the leathers I make stay dry some weep and become sticky, it doesn’t seem to affect the flavour. Also, they come out different thicknesses, it doesn’t seem to matter. I wrap them and put them in the fridge, they will last for months in there or a long time if frozen.

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