Forage of the Month – Sept/Oct

Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is a really popular snack and easy to carry around with you. It’s basically thin, pliable sheets of fruit puree with a flexible consistency (like leather). Don’t buy it in the shops because it’s incredibly simple to make your own. Now is the time to make it, when there are many fruits to forage for. All you need is apples and berries…

I like to use dessert apples as a base, as they give ‘body’ & then no added sweetener is needed. If it’s too late in the year for blackberries where you live, and you don’t have any that you put in the freezer, scroll down for more berry ideas…

Ingredients (approximate, you can vary this according to taste): 500g dessert apples, 500g handfuls of berries (eg blackberries, hawthorn, sloes, also plums), juice of 1 lemon. You can also include 100g honey if you like.

Method: peel, core & slice the apples thinly. Put about 1cm of water in a pan & add the apples, berries and lemon juice. Simmer gently, just til the apples are soft. Mash it up together, and rub it all through a sieve to remove berry pips (if you like a raw option, you could just put it all in a food processor, having cored the apples first). This is the moment to add the optional honey.

Line two baking sheets (approx 24cm x 30cm) with baking parchment & spread the fruit mash to a depth of no more than half a centimetre. Put the trays in a very low fan oven, 60C, (or in a food dehydrator if you have one… or even leave out in the breeze on a warm day) until it’s completely dry and peels off the parchment paper easily. This can take upwards of 12 hours, but check it from time to time. When it’s dried enough, cut or tear into pieces & store in an airtight container. It’ll keep for about 6 months.

Other berries: it’s also great to improvise with other hedgerow fruits like hawthorn, sloes, wild plums etc, added to an apple base. Use in similar proportions to the recipe above.

Hawthorn: simmer the red berries in a little water til soft (about 15 mins), then push through a coarse sieve or colander, with the back of a wooden spoon, to separate the fruity mash from the large pips. Add to the cooked apple.

Sloes: I like to roast these separately and then add them to the cooked apple once I’ve removed the sloes’ stones. You can dry roast them in a frying pan. Once they start to split, their sweetness is released. Use these sparingly in your fruit leather as they have a strong presence.

Wild plums: halve, remove stones and cook with the apples. Or you might find it easier to remove the stones once they’re cooked.

Weave your own foraging basket with Native Hands in beautiful Sussex woodland

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