These are one of my new favourite things!
They are a homemade version of the fruit roll-up things in plastic packets with a bear on, that all the kids seem to have in their lunch boxes.
My kids have been asking for them, and I always say “No” mainly because of the packaging that would just end up in the bin. And also because of the cost (although I will confess I have never even got as far as working out which aisle they are in in the the shops, so have no idea how much they cost-my assumption is they will cost more than my homemade versions!)
I had my first attempt at these in the summer, and followed the instructions on the recipe I found, which said to put them in the oven on the lowest setting for 12 hours-eeeeek!
I waited for a sunny day so that the solar panels were doing their thing, and I didn’t feel bad about all the electricity we were using, and then got going. But I think I actually over-baked them, and they were kind of crispy at the edges. They still tasted good, but there weren’t rolling!
When I went on my fab foraging day, James had a couple of other canny, thrifty suggestions. I’ve since tried again, and have managed several batches using minimal amounts of energy to dry them out.
- On a conservatory windowsill on a sunny day
- Car dashboard on a sunny day-James made the point that it can get very hot inside cars left parked in the sunshine. Just remember to take them out before you drive off…
- Now the weather has turned colder, I’ve been putting them in the oven when it’s heating up and cooling down, and also putting them next to the log burner when it’s on in the evenings
They are super easy, and incredibly versatile, and a great way to use up any fruit gluts, and preserve them for later on in the year (if they don’t all get scoffed in a day). I picked all our cherries in the summer and chucked them straight in the freezer. This has been a great use for them!
Here’s some of the combinations I have tried out, and some suggestions for more:
- Apple and cinnamon
- Blackberry and apple
- Blackberry and orange
- Cherry and apple
- Pear and apple
It basically works well with any soft fruit, and I find that adding the apple help to make the puree a bit thicker and less runny.
The bonus for the apples is that you can use crab apples, or other teeny ones that are a pain to peel and core, as you just roughly chop them and chuck them in the pan pips and all.
This is what you need:
- 2 baking sheets-I use re-usable silicon baking liners, but I think you can use greaseproof too
- Large saucepan
- Fine mesh sieve
- Fruit of your choice-roughly chop things like apples and pears, and everything else can just get chucked in. I didn’t bother stoning the cherries, as they got filtered out by the sieve
- Splash of water or orange juice
- Honey/sugar to sweeten, to taste
This is what you do:
- Put all the fruit in a large saucepan with just a dash of water or fruit juice, and bring to the boil
- Allow to bubble away for 10-20 minutes, or until the fruit it all pulpy and squishy. Stir periodically to make sure it’s not catching on the bottom of the pan
- Strain though the sieve, pushing through as much of the pulp as possible. Stir/scrape enthusiastically around the sieve, until your arm is sore!
- Sweeten the puree to taste-I’ve used honey, but you can use sugar or syrup. Add a couple of teaspoons and then taste it, and add more as necessary
- Spread out the resultant puree on to the baking sheets, smoothing it out to get a nice even layer of a couple of mm thick
- Use you chosen method of drying (see above) for as long as it takes-mine have taken 2-3 days in this colder weather, moving them from the oven to the log burner and back again!
- Once the whole sheet has dried out, you can peel it off the liners.
- Roll the whole sheet up, and then use scissors to chop the roll-up into smaller bits (about 5cm long)
- Store in an airtight jar. They should keep for a couple of months, but I don’t think they will last that long!
Suggestions for using them
- Eat them as they are. They are especially good for bribing children, and plenty sweet enough to substitute for sweets
- Chop them up into porridge-they go all lovely and gooey
- Add to stewed apple for crumbles and pies etc
- We haven’t tried this yet, but I do think they might be good sandwiched into a hot croissant