there is something about michigan when the sun is out and the farmers markets kick into full gear. i do this every year where i have this fear that come september i’m going to be freaking out that i didn’t can enough, didn’t freeze enough, didn’t process enough of the spring and summer produce. then may comes around and i’m finishing the last few jars and baggies of everything to make room for the new crop about to come in. i tend to stress myself out by getting over zealous at the farmers markets by buying flats and flats of berries then forcing myself to can them in my non a/c house. this year with a baby on the way i committed to myself to just make it enjoyable and if and when i run out the frozen fruit from fresh thyme will get me by.
that still hasn’t stopped me from buying all the beautiful fruits and veggies at the market. there is something about michigan strawberries that are so sweet and juicy they don’t even compare to the giant berries you can buy at commercial stores. they have their own flavor. a lot of people have been saying it’s been a bad season for berries here in michigan. i beg to differ, the farmers market in holland and grand rapids is bursting with them. i bought these from a local farmer at the fulton street and they were like little jewels sitting in beautiful wooden pint crates. i showed restraint and only bought two quart containers. enough to snack and to try out a new recipe. in addition to the strawberries i bought a quart of raspberries, the last of the asparagus for the season and some new potatoes (the little tiny buggers). i usually keep a cooler bag with me so i can go early in the morning to get the best selection and then make my way home. the bag is starting to wear out and i’m thinking about investing in one of those small yeti coolers but 1.) they’re expensive 2.) i’m scared it would just get stolen if i took it to the beach etc. anybody have one of these? do you love it or is it overhyped? anyways… i need something to replace my bag soon. it’s on the fritz.
my normal routine is to go to the holland market wednesday before work and then i go saturday morning to fulton street to stock up on stuff to get me to at least tuesday. it makes me feel a bit european to buy things for only a few days at a time. so anyway back to what i did with these strawberries. since i already made like 14 million containers of freezer jam with my mom (didn’t even can any this summer!) i decided to try something a little different. plus i got a new fancy kitchen gadget that i wanted to try out.
i decided to attempt to make strawberry fruit leather. now fruit leather is basically just a fancy way to say that i made homemade fruit by the foot. i used to BEG my mom to put fruit by the foot in my lunch bag. why? probably the same reason as i wanted lunchables. the taste was awful but yet so delicious and processed at the same time. (i didn’t say that… i certainly don’t eat processed foods now..nope just uh… 100% organic stuff.) so fruit leather.
you don’t NEED a dehydrator for this recipe but it certainly does help. i asked for one for christmas and my beloved husband accidentally bought me a food saver. to his defense though they can be tricky boxes?
i actually would have kept the food saver but i had one already. we shopped around and found this breville smart oven air pro while browsing our local sur la table. (have i mentioned that i think it’s so sexy that my joey likes to browse kitchen stores as much as i do?) everyone has their thing. anyway we found this gadget and it has been an absolute life saver in our house. and no they’re not even paying me to say this. (unless breville you want to? then i’ll gladly continue to sing your praises). like i said before we have no A/C so turning on the oven in the summer is dangerous. especially because we have a commercial kitchen oven. it’s a sauna. this little baby oven bakes, broils, air frys, toasts, reheats and DEHYDRATES. after whipping up this recipe we have successfully used each feature and each feature works amazing. bonus: doesn’t heat up the kitchen. double bonus: i baked an entire pie in this bad boy and it was perfect.
ok so here is the actual recipe. it’s three ingredients and it will blow your mind. you will need a jelly roll pan or a deep baking sheet. i bought quarter sheet pans to fit into the oven which made me bake in two batches but again, worth it. i adapted this recipe from baked by rachel. i also made a double batch.
strawberry fruit leather
8 cups of strawberries washed and stems cut. (about two quarts)
1 cup of sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice.
1.) line your baking sheets with parchment paper. be sure to let it overhang just a bit. you don’t want the leather to stick to the pan just the paper.
2.) blend the ingredients in a blender until you have a smooth puree
3.) pour the puree on to the baking sheet for a thin layer. if you make it a little thicker it will just have to dehydrate longer. i mean you want it to just skim the paper. use a spatula to level it out in the pan.
4.) dehydrate for 3.5 hours at 170 degrees. note: my last batch took about 4.25 hours (poured it a little thick)
5.) the leather should just be slightly tacky to the touch but not wet. let cool out on the counter.
6.) starting with the shoter length size roll up a little tightly so you have one roll of paper/leather. (DON’T remove the paper) you need that to keep it from becoming a hunk o leather.
7.) cut the roll into strips as thick as you would like. i did about 1-2 inch strips for snacks. keep rolled up (think fruit by the foot) and store in an air tight container or zip lock bag. they are the PERFECT little summer snack.
just remember to peel away the wax paper before you eat it 🙂