Saturday, July 23, 2011

How To Make: Strawberry Fruit Leather

This summer in early July,
our family went strawberry picking!

As a result, 
we had a crazy bounty of delicious berries to consume,
and I got a chance to try this recipe I'd been drooling over :)

I got the recipe from here,
but I also found inspiration from this amazeballs recipe,
(though sadly I did not have a Ford Festiva in my pantry) ;)

So here's what I did, step by step, 
and because I just bought a new camera,
I may have gone a little snap happy :)
(Also, my apologies for any blurry shots... as, well...
I'm no pro, and new cameras are confusing)

I started off with hulling, washing and drying 2 baskets of berries,
and then freezing them overnight in ziplock bags,
then thawing them in the fridge for another day.
(This part is pretty low maintenance...
Yay for things that are hard to mess up! haha) 

I did this to make the berries easier/faster to break down.
I then poured the liquid floating in the bags into a dish,
and set it aside for later.

Next, I poured all the berries into a medium pot,
and began to boil,
(see 1st and 2nd photos).

Once it got going, I mixed in:
A giant, long squirt of lemon juice (very precise)
4 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup of honey
3 dashes of cinnamon

Once it had boiled enough I felt it was ready,
I strained the berry mixture through a metal strainer,
leaving the liquid aside, 
and put the berries into the blender to puree them.
(This took about 5 half blenders worth)

Shown above:
Left: Liquids with an added scoop of brown sugar
Right: The bowl where I collected the puree

(My sister and I later made juice with the liquids!)
(Pretty darn delicious!!!)

Next I covered two trays with Glad Clingwrap,
as my (limited) research said 
they were ok for this type of use

Then I began spooning on the berry mix

And because it's me, 
I managed to do what the recipe said not to do :/

(I.E. Don't let the edges cover the berries, 
as those parts won't dry)

I couldn't help it!  
It just fell over, 
and there was nothing I could do to stop it, 
I swear!

So I MacGyver'd it,
by placing a bigger sheet of plastic under it, 
and convinced the first sheet to stick to that and stay flat.

After baking both sheets in the oven 
on the lowest setting possible for, 
oh... way too long,
They were finally done.

The one on the bottom rack was done after about 7.5 hours.
The one on the top was done after about 10 hours.

By done, I mean that when I poked it, 
I didn't stick, and there was nothing on my finger.

I think though, that they were in too long :(

I was going for that same fruit leather consistency
you get from store bought.
You know, soft and chewy?

What I got was pretty solid.
If not a little too dry.

I also learned about plastic wrap,
and that if you put it on the bottom rack, 
it melts to your fruit leather, and when you peel it off,
it's like (brace yourself) peeling skin from a sunburn (eeew).
It comes off in tiny little wisps, 
and took For EVAR to remove it all :(

Here is the one from the top rack,
all done!

Held up against the light
Up close
So seedy!
De CLAW!!! AArgh!!!

Next, I used scissors to cut it into freezable strips.
I chose squares and rectangles 
based on the cookie cutters I like to use on them :)

There may or may not be a strip or 2 missing
due to quality control ;)

Not too bad!
Pretty dry,
But actually tastes about the same as store-bought!

Then I wrapped them up in plastic wrap,
2 to a sheet.

And once all wrapped, I placed them in freezer bags,
and there they wait until school starts :)

Of course, 
I may have saved some out to enjoy for now, too ;)

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