It's summer here in southern Australia - and that means gorgeous summer fruits by the bucket load!
Recently I was gifted a huge haul of the most beautiful plums. Firm, juicy and nicely tart they made exquisite jam. And, having made three batches of jam I found that I had a bowl full of fruit left over - but not enough to make the fourth batch of jam!
Not wishing to waste these beautiful fruit, and mindful that young grandsons were coming to stay during the school holidays, I decided to try making a simple two ingredient fruit leather. An opportunity to make a healthy snack for the boys, I thought!
The days at the time were gloriously sunny with temperatures ranging from about 28 - 34 degrees Centigrade. On a whim therefore I decided to try drying the fruit leather in the sun. I shared the results on my In My Kitchen ... in January post here, and was amazed at the interest in this method of drying fruit leather.
At this point I need to confess that my motivation to try the magical power of the sun was actually two fold. Firstly, I do not own a dehydrator, and secondly, my oven has an annoying safety feature - it automatically switches off after two hours! While I still have not worked out how to overide this, but there must be a way! Suggestions anyone?
I was thrilled to find that my solar powered drying experiment worked so fabulously well!
The fruit leather strips have been a hit with the grandsons who gave them a double thumbs up!
What more could a Granny want!
Sun Dried Plum Fruit Leather
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
MethodWash the fruit. Cut the plums in half, remove the pips and any bruised flesh. The plums I used were dark skinned but pink inside (I'm not sure of the variety) - but any type will do.
Place the sliced fruit in a saucepan together with the water. Bring to the boil, turn back the heat and simmer gently until the plums are cooked through. Add the sugar and, stirring constantly, cook for 5 minutes more. Taste the fruit mixture and add a little more sugar to taste if the cooked plum mixture is too tart for your palate. This will depend very much on the type of plum you have used.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the fruit mixture to cool. When just warm use a stick blender to puree the fruit.
Line baking trays or roasting pans with baking parchment paper. Pour in the puree and spread evenly over the tray to a depth of about 3 millimetres. I used three roasting pans.
Place your trays in the sun and cover, if necessary, with a fine nylon mesh cloth to keep any insects out. I use a curtain bought from an oddments bin at IKEA for this! It's perfect for the job!
We have a stone topped picnic table that gets quite hot in the sun so I placed the baking trays in full sun on the table. This meant the fruit leather was heated from the bottom as well as the top, hastening the drying of the fuit leather significantly! The leather, using this method, was ready in only four hours!
Using kitchen scissors and leaving the backing baking paper on I cut the leather into strips about 3 centimetres and rolled them up for storage in an airtight container.
Harnessing the magical power of the sun is a not only a cost effective means of preserving, but planet friendly as well! I encourage you try it!