Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach Leather

For the first time since we've been in Morgantown, we were able to get WVU Farm peaches. Apparently, Peach Day is a big deal for both locavores and the farm staff, mainly because it only takes a day [or two half days in this case] to sell the entire crop. The WVU farm is on a side of town we rarely visit but if he wants, Julian can make it "on the way" to and from his weekly meetings.

So what do you do with 11lbs of peaches? An assortment of things, I am learning. This peck of peaches comes right on the heels of some angst I had as a result of throwing away about a pint of strawberries that perished in the fridge from neglect. You see, I have this habit of buying produce at really outstanding prices but then not taking the time to prepare it to eat. It shrivels, or worse, in the fridge and then I pitch it. Sadly, this has happened with cherries, strawberries, and kumquats, in the not so distant past. I said to myself, "Self, you've got to get this under control!" Enter: the dehydrator.

If you Pin-search "peach leather" the results are delightful ... but off topic, so I just stuck to the books on this one and wished I had a reason/bank account to buy these. I consulted the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and The River Cottage Preserves Handbook. I also consulted Pam via Twitter - ah, the impressive these days.

Recipe for Peach Leather
Adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook

2 lbs washed peaches, peeled or not
7 tbsp good honey
1 lemon,  juice from

{Depending on what you have and what you had to pay to get it, this recipe can be modified by substituting cored apples for up to one pound of the fruit. And feel free to add spices like ginger and cinnamon.}

Preheat the oven to 140F. You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one. {Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions because it will take much less time than in an oven.}We tried to do it in the oven. Our oven's lowest setting was 170F and that produced a product much more like leather and less like peaches. We promptly bought a dehydrator. I love it.

Pit and pare your fruit, put into a large pot with lemon juice. Bring to low simmer, adding only a small amount of water if necessary to keep fruit from sticking. Simmer about 20 minutes or until soft and pulpy.  Add the honey and buzz it all until it is smooth in a blender or food processor.  Pour out in thin layer on non-stick sheets or on cookie sheets covered with parchment. Make sure depth of the fruit puree is consistent throughout. Don't be tempted to make it all fit on one sheet. It will be able to fit but it will take twice the time to dry. Bake in cool over 12-18 hours or until leather peels easily from sheet. Or just buy the darn dehydrator and its done in 6 hours or less.

Confession - this all happened two weeks ago now but I was holding off to come up with a picture of the finished product. Trouble is, we ate it all, and didn't slow down for snaps. Oh well - make some of your own and you'll know what it looks like.

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