Tuesday, August 2, 2011

making fruit leather

Last week we picked up a peck of East Texas peaches.  They were HUGE!  We made some peach preserves, but I ran out of my pectin before I got too many jarred.  I like to use Pamona Universal Pectin because I can use honey in it instead of sugar.  Unfortunately I cannot get this locally.  So when I'm out, I'm out.  I ended up with seven jars of preserves and a ton of peaches.  Buddy was thrilled by this prospect!  That boy put away so many peaches!  Towards the end of the week they were getting squashy and not very appetizing.  We took those suckers and made fruit leathers out of them!

This was my first venture into making fruit leather, but for some reason I didn't really research any methods.  I just followed my gut on what to do.

First I chopped up the peaches and removed all pits- I didn't peel them.  I put them in my big stock pot and cooked them down a bit.  It was probably around three minutes of actual cook time.  By that point they were nice and juicy (remember, I started with over ripe peaches).

Then I popped them into the blender and pureed them until they were completely smooth.

I layered some plastic wrap on three cookie sheets.

Then I poured the pureed peaches onto the plastic, about 1/4 inch thick.  John and I discussed the best method for dehydrating them.  We figured we might as well put the 104 degree temps to work and laid them out in the back of the car.

This was genius!  Or so we thought.  However, we didn't take into account the temperature fluctuations that would take place on our short drive to church.  After 24 hours the puree was somewhat dry, but still really tacky.  I gave up on my dream and popped them into the oven.  The great thing is that with the sun doing most of the work, they were only in the oven for about 3 hours on the "warm" setting, and then they were ready store!

Using my kitchen scissors, I cut them into leather strips.  If after exhibit (a) we made our own fruit leathers and (b) we tried to dry them using solar power, you still don't believe that we are hippies, well, here's Buddy displaying the final product in his home made tie-dye t-shirt.

After the kids ate as many as I would let them, I wrapped them up in wax paper and put them in the refrigerator.

We ended up making about 50 leathers!  That alone well covers the cost of the peaches.  I am very pleased with the final product.  They are delicious!


Thank you for all of your thoughts and experience shared in the comments about our going grain and sugar free.  It really encouraged me to hear all of your stories!

Grain/ sugar fast update:

Day one down!  I wanted to write this here for my records.  I figured it may be of interest to anyone else that is thinking about going down this path.

Monday we ate:
B- fried eggs, watermelon and banana
L- romaine and spinach salad with blueberries, crispy almonds, chia seeds, and salmon (on sale!  YES!)
D- Roasted lemon chicken with roasted carrots and parsnips and sauteed okra with red sweet peppers

I feel:
tired.  And I have a headache behind my right eye.  I am surprised by this!  I was expecting some side effects, but not this soon.  Who knew my few servings of grains per day would cause such drastic effects?  Ok, well, some of you knew.  But since we eat so clean in general, I didn't think it would be that big of a deal.   I am starting yogurt and have a chicken in the crock pot for more stock.  Here's to being another day closer to feeling great!


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about making fruit leather (we haven't seen peaches around here yet, but we have lots of blueberries). I use silicon mats to line my cookie sheets for a lot of baking-- do you think they would work for the leather, or do I need to get plastic wrap to make it work?

Cheryl said...

Oh my goodness....so yummy!
We ate our weight in peaches in Alabama! My fav. :)

mandi said...

I would give the silicon mats a try. I was pretty uncomfortable using the plastic with heat. And I know that when you use a dehydrator to make leathers you use some form of silicon matting, so go for it!

Traci said...

Okay, thats it, I must make some fruit leather now....need to find something on sale or roadside stand ripe and ready...I am on the lookout, thanks for sharing your experiment..love the car oven part. You had to try, in Texas after all! I also want to make meat jerky by dehydrating..that may come first.

Ivy Mae said...

Just wanted to chime in about your side effect headache...I know we felt simultaneously ravenous and sort of flu-y for the first few days. I also got an outbreak of eczema on my hands. Apparently when you get a strong reaction, it may mean that you are more sensitive to grains/sugars than you might have originally thought. Kind of weird that we're doing something positive and yet getting an initially icky response! Anyways, just some encouragement--it didn't take long for us to start feeling a lot better, about a week if I remember right.

mandi said...

Thanks Ivy Mae! I know that when I initially went from the SAD to eating vegetarian 8 years ago that I felt flu-ish for about 6 months! My understanding is that you kind of work through all of your issues in reverse as you are cleansing them from your system. And about sensitivity- I am SOOOOO incredibly sensitive to everything. Just the way I'm built! Thank you for your encouragement!

Rosie_Kate said...

I bet in a few days, you'll feel fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I will report back on the silicon mats-- I'll make a small batch first. They do well up to quite high heat and I have used them for off-label purposes before. :)

Andrea@Fancy That! said...

Mmmm. Great idea for the leftover peaches! Good luck with your fast!

Amy said...

Yum! Fruit leather! How adventurous....Peaches are the perfect fruit for that, I bet. We picked gallons of blackberries about 6 weeks ago and just froze them. I don't know if they'd make good leather. Whatdya think? I'd already made lots of jam from strawberries late spring, and that was enough jam-making for me. You can make it without pectin, did you know? I read a few recipes on some websites and threw them together. It was so easy.

I made almost oatmeal this morning for my kiddos and we all loved it! Especially Plum, I think. (She FINALLY figured out how to swallow.) Yesterday she had a whole piece of beef bacon!

Thanks for the nutrition and inspiration, as always, Mandi.

Love you guys.

The Farmers said...

Ok I'm doing this with some of my frozen peaches! Especially if it helps me appreciate the 105 degree weather.