Having a small boy in the house we regularly resort to rewarding good behaviour to get through trips to the supermarket, car journeys etc. (bribery). We've managed to train him to be pleased with an apple at the end of the supermarket shop (it has to be of the bright red variety), but when shopping in the town centre he's caught on to the fruit snacks sold in the local health food shop.
These are also a favourite on long car journeys, although feeding a small child with an energy giving fruit bar when you want them to sit still is probably a mistake. I'm all for supporting the local shop, but at 57p a time I'd rather find an alternative.
So I was very happy to find a recipe for fruit leather in the wonderful River Cottage Handbook No.2: Preserves by Pam Corbin.
The recipe can be applied to any combination of fruits, and even suggests using tomatoes for a savoury snack. The process is very simple, but does tie up the oven for a long time, I had to stop half way through to use the grill and then returned the drying fruit once the oven had cooled down again, I can't see this is a problem.
This recipe is taken from the River Cottage Handbook No.2: Preserves.
See here for the apple and plum leather recipe.
£1.34 1kg cooking apples (peel, chopped and cored) (equivalent cost, mine was free)
£1.58 1kg plums (stones removed) (equivalent cost, mine was free)
£0.60 Juice of 2 lemons
£ 1.98 300g honey
£5.50 Total (£2.58 without buying the fruit)
£22 per kg of leather (£10.32 without buying the fruit- about half the cost of the equivalent)
We still have plenty of cooking apples around, and I dug a tub of stewed plums out of the freezer, these had been in there 2 years so needed using up!
The fruit was stewed and the forced through a sieve creating a smooth puree
In went a whole jar of honey, I'm not sure if this is essential for the consistency of the finished product, or just for sweetness. It would be good to know as it does seem like a lot.
The purée was spread out on greaseproof paper, my ever useful Silicone Spatula was perfect for this, I'd also used it for pushing the fruit through the sieve earlier.
The recipe implied that after a certain period of drying in the oven the leather would peel off the paper, I couldn't get it to do this even after 24 hours, resorted to loosening it with a quick dip in a bowl of water. I had to re-dry the leather in the oven for a short while after doing this.
The resulting leather is amazing to play with, strong, flexible sheets which you can roll up and cut with scissors. The small boy turned his nose up at them, probably because it didn't come in a bright wrapper, but I'll persevere. I've been enjoying eating strips as a mid afternoon snack and have also chopped up some small bits to add interest to the morning musili.
15 mins preparation
30 mins simmering
15 mins pureeing and spreading
24 hours cooking
Not as sweet as the commercial variety, although this is probably down to the amount of plums used in the recipe. The texture is lovely and chewy.