Home Made Sour Fruit Leathers
Halloween is coming and I am dreading the onslaught of sugar coated cries for more candy. I love autumn, costume parties, and Dia de los Muertos, but I detest Halloween candy. I do let my children indulge in trick or treating because it is only one day of the year. I worry about neglecting them of their suburban childhood rights and I fear their rebellion in teenage years. Instead of fighting the candy cries, I busy myself making better, healthier candies out of love and I share them with all of their friends.
I decided to make sour fruit leathers when I saw neighborhood kids bring over rolls of sticky red dyed "tape." Many kids are allergic to red dye #40 and it has been linked to symptoms of ADHD so I would rather my kids did not eat it. I grew up loving fruit leathers and I thought that was what this candy was intending to be.
I had a bag of plums, cut in half and pits removed in the freezer from a friends tree and little to no idea of what to do with it. If you have a fruit tree, you know that you wait all year for fruit, and then for 1 month you have to practically give it away. That is a great time to ask all of your friends for bags of fruit, cut them in half, remove the pits and freeze them.
You then have two basic choices for the fruit leather preparation. You can let the package of frozen fruit thaw and blend with skins, until it is the consistency of applesauce. Or you can cook the fruit in a pan with a little butter or coconut oil until it is soft like applesauce. Hint: you could simply try this recipe with basic applesauce first. Next, I spread the layer on a dehydrator tray with a thick screen and dehydrate it for 8-12 hours until it is no longer sticky and peels off the sheet easily. I use this dehydrator. You can alternatively use an oven set at 140 F overnight or at last 8-10 hours. I would first place parchment paper or a Silpat liner on the cookie sheet to make sure it did not stick to the pan.
If you are looking for a little adventure, our ancestors simply placed the fruit paste out to dry in the hot sun all day. If you want to go primal, I recommend finding a cover to avoid "bug" leathers and cook in the great outdoors. To ward off bugs you will want to prop up a tent out of cheesecloth or something similar for protection and also for ventilation.
Here is the trick for this treat. Give them a fruit leather and kids may think you are trying to feed them a healthy snack, but challenge them to a sour fruit leather and they may accept. If the fruit leather was made from pure fruit, it should be sour; I then roll it in coconut sugar. There will be a sprinkling of a sweetener yes, but coconut sugar has more nutritional value than refined sugar and just a tiny bit will hit the tongue on contact. That should be all you need to make kids think it is a decadent treat.