One of the things that we have in abundance at Johnny’s Garden is fruit trees. We were blessed with already mature pear, cherry, apricot, plum, nectarine and almond trees. Someone living here before was inordinately fond apricots because we have 7 or 8 very large trees. Most of the time that wouldn’t present much of a problem; apricots blossom early and a good late frost will guarantee you don’t get fruit more often than not which means you are able to be thrilled when every 5 years or so you have a good apricot harvest. That good frost didn’t happen last year though and not this year either and as we found out last summer these trees happily produce more apricots than we can possibly manage.
This year, being smarter than I was last year, I put it out to friends and family to come and bring buckets and take home apricots. In the meantime the fruit waits for no one and I hate to see fruit go to waste. I know it’s a bit crazy to feel sorry for the tree having lovingly poured all that effort and energy into making fruit that is now laying on the ground neglected, but there ya go. So, what to do? Well I happened to make mention on facebook a while back that it is time to pick apricots so that my friends with buckets would be alerted that its time for them to come and do their thing. My friend Christina, remembering some nectarine leather that I made and brought to a trail ride last year, got all excited about the prospect of apricot leather. Evidently it was that good. Fruit leather is a perfect thing to do with the slightly bruised and over ripe fruit that had fallen from the tree, so Christina, this post (and at least some of this apricot leather) is for you…
Making fruit leather is quite easy and quick. Once the apricots have been washed and halved and pitted they are ready for the blender. I add some lemon juice and just enough water to get them going.
I blend the apricots until they are a nice smooth puree then I sweeten and add spices. For this batch I added sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also sweeten with honey or karo syrup.
Now I’m ready to start making leather. The process is really very easy now that I have the apricots the consistency and the sweetness that I want. I line cookie sheets with parchment paper (I spray the sheets lightly with olive oil to help the parchment paper stick to the cookie sheet) then I spray the parchment paper with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Next pour the apricot onto the cookie sheet. You want to pour just enough to evenly fill the cookie sheet about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. If you pour it too thick it will take forever to dry and be more likely to mold.
Then into the oven on the lowest setting with the oven door just slightly open until it dehydrates and turns into leather, I usually put it in over night.
That’s it. Once it comes out of the oven and cools it should easily peel off the parchment paper.
I then cut it into stripes and roll each strip in saran wrap those can then be stored in a large zip lock bag. Store in the refrigerator or for longer storage in the freezer.
Fruit leather is healthy, delicious, easy to make and great for tossing in your lunch box or stuffing a handful in your pocket for a snack to share. It will also make you popular with your cowgirl friends and the horses.