These days my inventiveness seems to be limited to nailing the correct aisle in the Supermarket to be able to do a mad (and usually Midnight) dash for snacks. Snacks for home, or snacks for the school lunchbox... (That empty, gaping box that's not even close to be inventive. Not that, again! Why Raisins? But Sophia-Belle gets pudding!)
Then I spy this, at Marlow and Sons. Their Strawberry and Rhubarb fruit leather. A little wrangling (thanks Kate!) and I'm going back and forth with the amazing head pastry chef over there, Avery Wittkamp, who parts with her method. The leather is tight and very chewy with a tart sherbet tang. It has whole slivers of Rhubarb imbedded in it, and it's not overly sweet. If you're like me, and always wondering; how I can bring costs down, make more things from scratch, purchase less processed foods and have the chance to control the amount of sweetener I use, then this one's for you.
STRAWBERRY and RHUBARB FRUIT LEATHER from MARLOW AND SONS With thanks to Avery Wittkamp
Firstly, cook the Rhubarb down with Honey (Avery uses Lancaster Honey) this is where you can control your desired sweetness. Add Strawberries to taste. You can add 50/50 Strawberries/Rhubarb if you wish. Puree. Just keep tasting it until you get the balance you want. The goal here is to make a yummy puree and go from there. Nothing too exact. It should look like a smoothie. Too thin, and you won't get the leathery texture you need. Spread on the silicone sheets for the Dehydrator (Yes, you need to use a Dehydrator. Sorry. Avery advises that she tried it once, in her oven at home, and it was meant to be a simple at-home project, but it turned into a huge mess. Also, most home oven's can't get as low in temperature as you will need to to make this work. Dehydrators range from around $40) Spread with a spatula. Thickness is important. Too thin, and it may have some splotchy holes. Too thick, and it will take too long to dry and be hard to roll up. 1/4 inch is good. Try to keep the edges thicker than the middle, because as it cooks it tends to pool in the center. Dehydrators will advise of correct fruit leather setting, but it's usually 135 F, for 6-8 hours.
NOTES: Any Summer berries will puree nicely; Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries. Even Autumn Pears or Apples (after they have been poached) would work really nicely too. Basicly, anything that you can puree and sweeten should work well. Once done, try using cookie cutters to cut out the fruit leather into various animal or fun shapes. Or just an upside down tuna can can make great circles. Inventive tips to liven up a kids lunch box.
(But can the fruit leather roll up and erase? I'm not sure. But my Dad will know...)
(pic Dimity Jones)