Fruit Leather or Vegetable Leather: Baked or Microwaved

If you’re like me, you don’t have either room or inclination to have specialized kitchen appliances such as a dehydrator.  I am very pragmatic, so I use my fingers and a knife to cut rather than special slicers and dicers, but when it comes to puréeing, there’s not much choice other than a blender or similar appliance.  Fruit leather is something that you can either make in a dehydrator, or if you have none, in your oven or even in the microwave.  The following is less of a recipe as far as amounts go, but rather instructions for adapting to your own needs.  While the title says “fruit”, you can use the same technique for moist vegetables such as tomatoes or squashes; any time you have an excess, or food that needs to be processed before it goes off, this is a great way to prepare it for longer-term storage or easy travel food.

Fruit LeatherLeather

Oven Technique:

Just purée fruits or vegetables that want “leathered”, & add a BIT of spices (whatever is appropriate to your leather; just remember that it will concentrate as the juices evaporate, so go easy on any additional flavouring!). Line a baking sheet with plastic, up over the edges, but NOT touching the metal of the stove. Pour in a layer about the thickness of 2 coins’ edges, leaving about 1″ (2 cm) free around the edge of the plastic. Bake at ~200°F (93°C) (warm enough, but not hot enough to melt the plastic wrap!!), for several hours (my oven takes about 6 hours), with the door of the oven propped open a wee bit to let out the moisture. When the leather is a bit sticky but “leathery” to the touch, it’s done. Take it out, let it cool a just wee bit, then roll it up in the plastic while it’s still flexible. Freeze until needed, or eat it straight.

Microwave Technique:

Purée any ripe fruit, skin and all (except pit or seed) in a food processor. Turn a casserole dish upside down and cover with plastic wrap. Spread 1/4 cup purée into a circle, very thin with edges a little thicker, making a hole in the centre the size of a thumb print. Microwave on 50% power for 8 to 12 minutes or until slightly sticky to touch. Remove plastic wrap and leather to cool and finish drying overnight. Check the consistency (it should be a bit sticky but “leathery” to the touch), and then roll up.

Leather Tips:

  • You can combine fruits; a banana gives it bulk. Try coconut, pineapple, etc.
  • Go easy on any seasonings:  Cinnamon, lemon, honey, etc.
  • The fruit leather will keep at room temperature for one month, or in a freezer for up to one year.
  • Melted chocolate, soft cream cheese, marshmallow cream and peanut butter make fun fillings for fruit leathers.
  • Store in refrigerator or freezer.
  • Do not use waxed paper or aluminium foil instead of plastic wrap!
  • Eat as a snack, or reconstitute to use in cakes, etc.  These are great snacks for taking to work, school, or on hikes!
  • Roll thinner strips a bit crooked, to create a “rose”.
  • Properly dried fruit leather is translucent and slightly tacky to the touch, but easily peeled from the pan.
  • Apple sauce can be added to more tart fruit purée such as cranberry to soften the taste, or to stretch more expensive fruits.
  • Vegetable leather can also be eaten as a snack or reconstituted for stews to add flavour.
  • Strain to remove any larger bits, especially if using drier vegetables such as carrots.

Spiced Preserved Limes

Spiced Preserved Limes

Spiced Preserved Limes

This is a recipe I’ve adapted from one calling for pickling the limes in oil.  I prefer this method as it leaves the limes with a more natural taste and without added oils.

If you chose to do it with oils, add 2/1 cups of olive oil to a sauce pan and bring to a boil, then allow to completely cool before using in place of the lime juice.  You could then use that oil, as the limes are used up, in your cooking.  Just make sure that the limes remaining in the jar have enough oil to keep them covered.  Oiled limes should be kept in the refridgerator after opening.

As with the Salted Lemons recipe, please use limes that have not been treated with insecticides, as you will be eating the whole lime, peeling included.

Spiced Preserved Limes

8 limes, washed and sliced into quarters

1 Tbs. Cumin seeds

1 Tbs. Black peppercorns

1 Tbs. Coridander seeds

1 Tbs. Crushed hot pepper

1 Tbs. Dried garlic flakes

1 tsp. Ground ginger or 1/2 Tbs. dried ginger flakes

1 tsp. Whole cloves

3-4 Tbs. Coarse sea salt

lime juice to top up the jar

Stir the whole spices together in a large glass (non-reactive) bowl.  Toss the lime quarters in the spices to coat, and then spoon into your chosen jar.  Let them sit for 30 minutes.  Pour in the lime juice to cover the limes, and seal the jar. Place it in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks to develop the flavors and soften the rinds.

This amount fills a 1-litre jar to the brim, packed tightly, which requires minimal lime juice to fill the jar.