Rosehip & hawthorn fruit leathers
Autumn fruits are sweeter after the first frost. After the long hot summer and abundant crops, there are still plenty of rosehips and hawthorns to be foraged for winter food. AIn this 'fruit leather recipe, any fruit can be used, but adding pectin-rich hawthorns help set the leather to a delicious, chewy texture.
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)
*If using rosehips: rosehip seeds are surrounded by tiny irritating hairs. So to include them in the recipe, simmer the rosehips separately, then, mash, strain & squeeze the liquid and fruit pulp through a muslin lined sieve to ensure any irritating hairs are strained out. Then use this pulp to simmer the rest of the fruits in.
Place the fruits (chop up any large fruits), rosehip puree and water in a large pan. 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. Add a little extra water if things start to dry up, but don’t let it get too runny, you want to end up with a puree. Once soft, 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, mix in the honey while still warm.
Line baking trays with baking paper (you will need 2-4 depending on fruit used) pour the fruit pulp into them and place in a dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, use an oven on lowest possible setting with the door left open ajar. 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 an hour on, and hour off, just be sure to leave the oven door open a bit to let moisture escape.
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 for up to one year.
Sensible safety foraging tips here