The autumn harvest season is well upon us, the trees and shrubs that line our streets and hedgerows are heavy with fruits; hawthorn, elderberry, crab apples, blackberries, apples, grapes, plums, pears, rosehips, rowan...the list goes on! All of these can be made in to delicious fruit leathers to preserve the nutritional and medicinal abundance of autumn all year round.
1kg wild, foraged and scrumped fruit (around 500g of this should be a pectin rich fruit like apples or hawthorn as they help the leathers to set).
1-2 tbsp honey (optional)
Place the fruits (chop up any large fruits if using) and water in a large pan (use more water for dry fruits like hawthorn and rosehips and less for juicier things like apples and grapes). Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 15-20 mins or until the fruit can be mashed with the back of a spoon. Mash the fruit up well (a potato masher helps here).
Place a sieve over a bowl and pour the fruit mix into the sieve. Rub the pulp through the sieve with the back of a strong spoon, collecting the fruity pulpy goodness in the bowl below.
Discard the fruit seeds and skins collected in the sieve.
At this stage the pulp should be the consistency of custard, if it looks watery, return it to a clean pan and simmer gently to evaporate off some of the water content and thicken the mix.
Taste the pulp, if you'd like it sweeter, add the honey now while still warm and stir thoroughly.
Line baking trays with baking paper (you will need 2-4 depending on fruit used) pour the fruit pulp into them and place in the oven of the lowest possible setting with the door left open ajar (or use a dehydrator). These can take anything from 2-8 hours to dry. You do not need to dry them the entire time with the oven on. We like to alternate between and hour on, and hour off, just be sure to leave the oven open a bit to let moisture out.
When dry to the touch, cut into 4cm strips and roll up in grease proof paper.
Storage: Store in the fridge for up to two weeks or freeze fro up to one years.