The Farmstead Kitchen- Applesauce Fruit Leather
In 2013 we had a phenomenal apple harvest, and I canned up about 200 quarts of honey cinnamon applesauce. I was a canning freak that year, it was like a factory in the kitchen all summer and fall. Making applesauce by the 5 gallon pot full is SOOO easy- all you do is core and quarter (do NOT skin them) apples to fill a pot, add a bit of water to start the apple steaming process, cover the pot and simmer gently til the apples all soften. Stir occasionally to make sure there’s no sticking onto the bottom happening. Add honey to taste (about a quart for a 5 gallon pot), and stir well. When you are ready to can, sprinkle on cinnamon ( a 1/4 cup or so) also to taste. Don’t add the cinnamon too early or some of it’s aromatics will be lost as the sauce cooks. Then I ladled the chunky applesauce into the blender hot, pureed it to a velvety smooth sauce and poured it straight into my canning quart jars. Each canner load holds 7 quarts at a time, and I had two canners going, so you can see how quickly and easily I became a canning rhythmist. I did this with apple syrup, pickled beets, dilly beans, tomato puree, pickled peppers, and green hot sauce. 2013 was truly an extremely bountiful year in the garden and orchard.
Anyways, long story short, it’s 2015 and I still had about 30 quarts of 2013 applesauce left and had been looking for some creative way to use it up. I don’t bake much, so using it as an egg substitute in baked gods wouldn’t help much, and I can chug it down straight from the jar, but…variety is nice too. I found a simple DIY Fruit Leather how-to on Pinterest and decided to try it.
LIFE CHANGING! This is SO EASY, especially if you have premade applesauce to use:
1 quart poured out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
Smooth and “Bake” at 170 for 3-6 hours until a little shiny and dried out but still a bit sticky to the touch.
This is the biggest variable as it’s hard to perfectly & evenly smooth out a very thick sauce across the baking sheet. You may want to try putting less than a whole quart of sauce onto your baking sheet if you want to have a thinner fruit leather more quickly.
Once completely cooled, remove the “leather” from the parchment carefully and loosely roll up, or you could cut it into strips right on the parchment if you want to make for a cute presentation and lessen the chance it will stick to it’s self. That doesn’t matter to us, we just eat it! Knowing it’s made from WHOLE ORGANIC APPLES and honey instead of sugar, means this fruit leather is really nutritious as well as being a satisfying sticky, sweet and chewy snack!
There’s me and a tiny fraction of the 2013 apple harvest!
All of our apple trees are wild and grown from seeds that cows “planted” (if you know what I mean) about 25 years ago- this means our apples are mostly not table apples at all. Some are sweet and amazing, some are “meh” and we’ve even found gross ones. Interestingly, there are also trees which have bitter apples that become sweet after a good hard frost. Such diversity, it’s really an adventure. Let’s hope for a bountiful apple year in 2015, and that I’ve gotten through all the 2013 applesauce before then! What do you do with a good apple year? What’s your favorite way to preserve apples, and use up surplus? Hard cider, apple wine, apple vinegar, savory and sweet apple chips are on the docket for trying this year, if we have a good apple year!
Last apple note- I found one tiny wild apple tree down in the gully that was loaded with these tiny and extremely unusually colored apples, they were sweet too but crab apple sized. Not a great size for processing, but they sure were unique, bite sized snacks. How cool, eh?