Spiced Apple and Plum Fruit Leather

Autumn, Sweet Recipes • 5 Oct 2014

I creep down the curved country roads with a fragile hesitation, slipping down unfamiliar paths. My son and I glide languidly along the contoured asphalt as we encroach on fragrant farmland, my nostrils exuberant from the clean air, freshly sheared lawns and capricious fallen leaves. Feeling a bit like a far-flung foreigner, I try not to let my vision congeal in the wrinkle of an intimate distraction. Distraction comes easily for me, especially when bobbing between towering country estates, lush tumbling pastures and autumn’s kaleidoscopic foliage.

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We coyly approach Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, humbled by nature’s bewitching powers, and spot a herd of cows enjoying a late afternoon snack of grass. My son is equally enthralled by the worldly powers of farmland, his energy fluctuating between manic buzz and bucolic calmness.

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My son runs through pastures, outstretched arms fluttering like a butterfly or an airplane, wind gently wisping through his hair, pausing only to pick up discarded chicken feathers and pinecones, which we gently place in a bag for his nature collection. The farm is nearly empty, and we delve into a game of make-believe- I’m the farmer and he’s my tiny helper, and compost expert extraordinaire (compost is a current obsession). We wax poetic about honey-making bees and tomatoes, soil and greenhouses; he asks enlightened questions and begs for more. As the sun stamps dappled shadows on the landscape of wildflowers, we seamlessly make plans to go apple picking, his insatiable appetite for our new country surroundings growing.

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The entire way home from Stone Barns, we discussed the kind farm apprentice’s impromptu preschool-appropriate farming lesson on compost production and usage, and dreamed about our forthcoming apple picking trips. The excitement in my son’s young voice was palpable as he leapfrogged from one thought to another: “Do you water the plants before you add the compost, Mommy? Do vegetables grow better with compost?” He barely breathed between his words and his squeals, “What are we going to do with the buckets and buckets and hundreds of apples? I want fruit leather! Can we water our plants when we get home and feed them compost?”

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With fruit leather on the brain, I bought a few dozen early fall plums to puree with apples procured from two orchards. We picked a rounded, busty bushel of tart MacIntosh at Wilkens Fruit Farm. While visiting my mom in Albany we picked a less capacious bag of sweet, crisp Macouns at Indian Ladder Farms.

To make the leather, strip the apples of skins and cores and discard the seeds. We taste their flesh and take notes on their nuanced flavors, one slightly floral, a bit milky and the other exquisitely tart. The crisp, white interiors begin to tint brown, as if burned callously by the morning air so we hurriedly toss them into a heavy-bottomed enamel pot to begin our apple puree.

While I cook the apples to render a smooth, silken texture, I blend the raw plums vigorously in a food processor until they liquefy. We strain the purees together in a wire fine-mesh strainer, add cinnamon and bake on a cookie sheet for seven hours until the gentle heat squeezes the liquid from the puree and leaves us with sticky fruit leather.

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The predominant taste is apples, the sour plums replacing the lemon juice I usually add to fruit leather. The hint of spice gives solace, the combination of flavors recalling warm apple or pumpkin pie. The flavor is safe, an echo of a distant childhood memory.

We made a lot of leather, stored tightly in an air-tight container, ready for our future trips to farms, the perfect portable snack for our upcoming autumn adventures.

Spiced Apple and Plum Fruit Leather

2 cups fresh plum, washed, and pitted
2 cups apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Pulse plums in food processor or blender until smooth. Strain into a medium bowl and discard the pulp.

2. Wash, peel, core and roughly chop apples. Add to medium saucepan with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook, about 10 minutes, until apples are soft.

3. Remove from heat and add sugar and cinnamon. Mash well and strain into the plum puree. Discard apple pulp and mix the two purees together.

4. Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Pour the puree onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Spread with a spatula to make sure the puree is even, about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for about 7 hours, until dry and no longer sticky. Turn off the oven and let the fruit leather dry out, overnight, in the oven.

5. Cut leather into strips, place on wax or parchment paper and roll. Store in air-tight container in a cool, dry place.

Yield: About 6- 8 strips of fruit leather.

2 Responses

  1. paula cohen-martin

    Your photos are astonishingly beautiful and always make me want to be a part of your day!

  2. Sarah Simon

    Can’t wait to try this recipe – looks fantastic!

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