Picking large quantities of fruit yourself during the harvest time, and processing it into a preserved form that can be enjoyed for months, is a project many forgo these days because of the time involved.
Being too busy to participate in the harvest is a real loss to our lives because being outside in gardens or orchards, picking produce, really connect you to the rhythms of nature. Many children of this generation have never themselves picked produce, and yet the experience is one of the greatest teachers about life on this planet.
I was visiting a friend recently who had an apricot tree fully bursting with ripe fruit in their backyard. I suggested we look through some cookbooks to come up with some
ideas for using up as many apricots as we possibly could; recipes that didn’t require canning, that is, because guess what, we didn’t have much time! They had the great idea of making fruit leather with the apricots.
We did this, and not only is making fruit leather incredibly simple and it can process large quantities of fruit, but once done the fruit leather can be stored at room temperature for 30 days, months in the refrigerator, or years in the freezer, according to the Department of Agriculture. In fact, this excellent recipe is provided by the Department of Agriculure.
Use any type of ripe fruit. Apples or Concord grapes should be cooked until tender and made into sauce first. Add 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice per quart of fruit for fruit that might darken.
Remove all pits stones, and seeds, and peel if desired.
Puree fruit in a blender until smooth.
Oil a cookie sheet, or cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. (I’ve found that the puree sticks to wax paper and is hard to salvage.) Pour puree 1/4-inch deep onto a cookie sheet with sides.
Turn oven onto the lowest setting, place cookie sheet on a rack, and crack the oven door. Cook for 4-6 hours until dry and the fruit leather is not sticky.
By Annie B. Bond