Pam Corbin's Blackberry and Apple Leather
Fruit leathers are thin, pliable sheets of dried, sweetened fruit purée with a flexible consistency exactly like leather. To be truthful, I had always avoided making them, thinking they sounded complicated. But, in a spirit of experimentation, I decided to try some out for this book. They were a revelation. I discovered how easy it is to create these strong, semi-transparent sheets, and how versatile they are. They are fun to use and eat – you can cut them, roll them, fold them and pack them away. Light and easy to carry, they’re full of fruity energy, so great for lunch boxes or long walks. Snip off pieces to dissolve gently into fruit salads, or save them for the festive season when their translucent, jewel-like colours will looks gorgeous on the Christmas tree.
Makes 2 sheets of 24 x 30cm
500g peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples (2-3 large apples)
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to a very low setting – I use 60°C/Gas Mark 1/8 (approximately). Line two baking sheets, measuring about 24 x 30cm, with baking parchment.
Put the blackberries, apples and lemon juice into a pan. Cook gently until soft and pulpy, about 20 minutes. Rub the mixture through a sieve or mouli into a bowl; you should have about 700g smooth fruit purée. Add the honey and mix well.
Divide the purée between the two baking sheets. Spread it out lightly with the back of a spoon until the purée covers the sheets. In a thin, even layer.
Put the baking sheets in the oven and leave for 12-18 hours, until the fruit purée is completely dry and peels off the parchment easily. Roll up the leather in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin. Use within 5 months.
There is no end to the possible variations here – you can turn any fruit into a leather. All you need to do is create a smooth, thick purée with your chosen fruit before drying it out. Try plums, spicing the purée with a little cinnamon; or peaches, infusing them with a few honeysuckle blossoms as they cook. For a savoury leather use half and half of apples and tomatoes seasoned with 2 tsp souper mix or celery salt.
© From “Preserves”, published August 2008 (Bloomsbury Publishing)