What is a grown , almost 40 year old woman with no children (other than her big baby Certain Someone) doing making fruit leather? Well, a number of reasons. The May issue of Gourmet has a strawberry fruit leather recipe I had my eye on . Then yesterdays CSA box yielded about a 1 1/2 lbs of each of black, and red plums, in addition to blackberries, and peaches! No way I can get through all that fruit, and I don't feel like baking pies or cakes . So fruit leather it is. Think of it as another way to preserve summers bounty.I figured I can take it to work and resist the Candy Man "Big Money" who sits in front of me with his notorious stash of candy. It's bad and everyone comes down in the building for their daily fix. He gets odd delight in it. Maybe he likes to see all the women go by, who knows. But we love him. And he keeps my orders moving and clients appeased. What appeals to me about fruit leather is that it is all natural. You can add sugar or not depending on the fruit and your taste levels. I used Agave Nectar and some Cardamon for some kick. I looked online and also used the Gourmet article as reference. Rather than add water to the fruit puree and cook down, as some suggest, I felt the plums had enough water in them .I kept the peel on to for texture. If using stone fruit be sure to pit them. A lot of people recommend removing the peel, but that's up to you. And you don't need a fancy dehydrator gadget. This can be done in your oven.
Coco's Plum Cardamon Fruit Leather (adapted in part/technique from Gourmet Magazines May 2008 Strawberry Leather)
1 1/2 lbs black plums( about 14)
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
Wash and stone fruit. In a food processor or blender puree fruit. In a heavy bottomed pot add puree and Agave nectar and bring to a boil. Reduce and cook for about 10 minutes. Add Cardamon to taste. Using the Gourmet method from this point pour the mixture onto the Silpat. I have seen some recipes use microwave proof plastic wrap as well. Spread in an even layer. Place in a oven that's heated at about 150 degrees to no more than 200 for 3 hours or until slightly sticky , but not sticking to fingers/solid. Very low temp(caution don't leave unattended even though it is a low temp). Take out ,remove Silpat /liner , and let dry on a rack for several hours up to 24 until dry. Take a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and cover the leather with it. Then peel upwards to remove the leather from the Silpat. It should adhere to the parchment(See notes). Roll up and store in plastic bags. Stores for up to 1 month.
Some notes: Due to humidity and thickness make sure the fruit puree is evenly dries out and done in the oven.While it dried it became a little more so(did not have air on) I noticed my center was more gooey and put it back in for another hour or so. When I added the parchment to roll the center was still mushy. I flipped the Silpat and peeled off the leather onto the parchment paper. I scraped the gooey part off the Silpat with a dough scraper and spread over the 'broken part'. The underside now exposed right side up on the parchment went back into the oven for another hour or so.
On a side note I just want to say first thanks for your opinions about the link issue. Made me feel way better! Your support means a lot to me. Also, guess what? It may not mean anything yet, but I will be starting to work on a 'on call' basis in a artisan caterers kitchen. I have known the chef for a few years through some part time restaurant work and followed him as a part time on call server to this particular caterer. Saturday morning I'm coming in to learn the kitchen and the ropes. Less pay than serving , but something I love to do! A little dream of mine without giving up the day job. It will be an experience learning and working off premise catering.