We are so excited to have a guest post by the mama who was voted “Best Acupuncturist in Sonoma County” five years in a row! Lorelle Saxena is a licensed acupuncturists who we continually refer to because, like her website states, she is a strong believer in “slow medicine”–that is, addressing the root cause of symptoms from a lifestyle perspective–rather than seeking quick, temporary fixes, and we see that work well for our clients. If you’re not already following her blog, we highly recommend it. It’s filled with gems on creating a health and family, just like in this sweet post she wrote for us. Hope you enjoy!
Eight years ago this August, Adam and I moved into our home. The big old fig tree and the little old plum tree in the backyard were exploding with fruit, dropping it all over the ground. Our big mutt, Toby, happily ate fallen fruit for hours on end, even after it gave him indigestion.
We like making jam, but that’s a focused and time-consuming endeavor, and we had our hands full trying to settle in to the new place. Still, we couldn’t bear to have all that fruit go to waste. What we needed was a quick way to preserve the fruit, a method that didn’t require the watchful eye and constant stirring and temperature-taking that jam needs.
So we bought a great big Excalibur dehydrator, with nine trays. It was a pretty substantial purchase for new homeowners, one starting a business, in a dicey economy–and we’ve never regretted the purchase. With minimal effort, we filled jar after half-gallon jar with delicious dried figs and prunes. Since then, we’ve dried lots of other fruits, and Adam has also used the dehydrator to make delicious yogurt or raise yeasted dough.
And this year, our almost-four-year-old, Kamal, has fallen in love with fruit leathers. Which can be a really terrific, healthful snack–but they tend to be relatively heavily packaged, and sometimes they contain added sugar or preservatives.
So this summer, we bought even bigger piles of berries from our favorite berry stand, Farmer Lao’s on Route 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Every year, starting in the spring, we drive past Farmer Lao’s hoping it’ll be open. And as soon as it is, we buy piles and piles of berries–mostly strawberries, but blueberries, too, if Farmer Lao has them. We eat as many fresh berries as we can, which, especially if you’re Kamal, is a LOT. Adam makes enough jam to keep our toast covered for a whole year. And this year, to Kamal’s delight and thanks to our dehydrator, Adam turned a bunch of berries into fruit leather.
The nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t need exact measurements or complicated instructions: you just need berries, a dehydrator, and maybe applesauce and lemon juice, if you’d like.
After washing the berries and trimming the hull, Adam used our old Vitamix to turn the berries into beautiful red and purple purees. You can also combine the berries, but Adam decided to keep them separate.
Then he mixed the purees with an equal part of applesauce–so for each cup of berry puree, he mixed in a cup of applesauce. This is completely optional; we just had a lot of beautiful applesauce that Adam put up earlier in the year from apple’s we’d picked at our friends’ orchard, and it seemed silly to leave it out.
At this point, you can taste the puree and decide whether you’d like to brighten the flavor with a bit of lemon juice, or whether you’d just like to keep it as sweet as possible. Another consideration: lemon juice will also help preserve the bright colors of the fruit by preventing oxidation.
Adam lined the dehydrator trays with parchment paper, spread the puree across the paper to about a quarter-inch thickness, slid the trays into the dehydrator and and left it to dry at about 135 degrees (Fahrenheit) for several hours, till it felt fruit-leathery. Depending on the moisture content of your fruit and the humidity where you’re located, the length of time can vary pretty widely, so don’t forget to check every so often, unless you’re okay with ending up with crispy fruit puree.
Next, Adam pulled the trays out and let them cool. Then he lifted the parchment paper of
f the trays, rolled the paper and fruit leather into the cylinders you remember from back in the day, sliced them into manageable lengths, and stored them in an airtight container.
Now they’re ready to be doled out to Kamal and his friends over for playdates (or me rooting around in the cabinet late at night with a sweet tooth), and they’ll taste like summer until the very last one is gone.