Sixty Acre Baker

Quince Fruit Leather

As a kid, I brought a sack lunch to school every day…as did most of my classmates. What I would never find packed in my lunch were modern day snack foods. I was always trying to trade up for fruit roll-ups. Oh how I loved them. The whole thing…the sound the leather made while being ripped off its backing. Eating it piece by piece…or better yet…making a dense chewy mini roll-up which would burst with flavor at every gnash. Apricot was always my favorite. I would trade my best halloween candy for a roll of apricot.
I learned to make fruit leather in fancy french culinary school. It was a bit of a production; mostly because it was fancy culinary school. Making fruit leather is simple and easy, and extremely satisfying. I love it because it gives a use for the “dregs” from another product: the pulp from jelly making, juicing, and simple syrups. I made a lovely quince sorbet as a palate cleanser for our Thanksgiving dinner {recipe coming soon}. I boiled down the beautiful fruit and extracted a lovely pink elixir. At the end of it all, I was left with a bundle of fruit. It was a bit chunky, and was lacking sweetness. With just a little bit of flavor tweaking, and a good dry out in the dehydrator, I was able to make a roll-up that was better than the memory of my youth and cheaper than culinary school tuition. Once you have the method down, you can make leather with all your favorite flavors. You also will be glad to know that having a fancy dehydrator, while a great convenience, is not required to make this tasty treat.

Quince Fruit Leather
2-3 lbs quince
juice of 1/2 lemon
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
1″ ginger root, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optional: I find that it helps bring out the pink color of the quince when cooking)
piece of parchment paper
additional sweetener (sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave; your choice)
ground cardamom, ground ginger
Wash fruit well and scrub off all fuzz from exterior. Chop quince into chunks (about 2″ each). Place in a heavy bottom pot and cover with water. Add lemon juice, cardamom seeds, ginger root. Cut your parchment paper into a round large enough to cover your pot Cut a small hole in the middle of the parchment round for venting. Place the parchment snugly on top of the quince. The purpose of the parchment is to keep the fruit submerged under the liquid. Cook until the fruit is very soft and falling apart and the color has changed from yellow to pinkish. The longer you cook, the more color you will get from the fruit. Blend everything together using an immersion blender, blender, food processor or food mill. Drain using a cheesecloth lined sieve or jelly bag. If you don’t want to drain the liquid out, toss the whole mess back into the pot and cook off most of the liquid. You don’t want the mixture to be completely dry, but you don’t want it to be so liquidy that you can drink it. Whether you drain or don’t drain, place the mixture you will turn into leather back onto the pot and taste for sweetness and spice. Don’t over sweeten. You will be dehydrating, which will make the flavor extra bold. Add enough sweetness and spice to highlight the flavor. You may want to add a bit more lemon juice at this point as well. Just cook long enough for the sugar to melt into the mixture.
You can use the drained for cocktails, homemade sodas, sorbet, over fruit, soaked in pound cake…
Prepare your dehydrator or sheet pans. If you have a dehydrator, line the mesh sheets with plastic wrap. If using oven, line with silpat or heavy plastic wrap. Using an offset spatula spread an even 1/8″ thick layer of fruit paste onto your prepared surface. If using a dehydrator or oven use a setting of 135-140F. It can take anywhere from 6-12 hours. Start checking up on it at 6 hours. The paste should have lost its stickiness, but not be hard. If it is hard, while still warm, it will be fruit crackle when it cools (which is still edible and yummy). I like to turn the dehydrator off at maximum of 8 hours and let the leather sit for a few hours or overnight.
Store in an airtight container…or fancy wrap them like the gift they are.

Leave a Reply