June is the month that pulls in all directions.
And so I’m here just for a few moments on this Sunday night to offer you what I have, which are strawberries that I picked myself when I dropped everything and went picking on Friday. Mostly I did it with the hope that my friend, Molly, would go ahead and have her baby right there in the field. It seemed like it would make an awfully good story.
Instead we came home with our strawberries, Molly cut Sadie’s hair on the back porch, and then they gifted the hair to the birds. I made custard and whipped cream as a vehicle for strawberries, and then I made fruit roll-ups. We are still waiting for the baby. But I think we’ll go picking again next week, given the little one decides to stay in until then.
Fruit roll-ups (or leathers if that’s the way you swing) might sound like a complicated and DIY homesteader housewife kind of thing to make, but the truth is that if you have a dehydrator or an oven that goes down to a low temperature, it’s as easy as a whir in your blender and a day in the dehydrator or oven. In this time, your house will smell like strawberry pie, and you won’t have to do a thing (except of course all of the other things you have to do–it is, after all, JUNE). The dehydrator really is the unsung hero of preservation, as there is so little work involved in the drying of most fresh foods. And the result in this case are ruby red sheets of spicy sweetness that can either be rolled up in little bits of parchment, or just free form thrown into a jar for those who don’t feel like adding a step.
A few notes on dehydrators: I have this one, which I share with the aforementioned Molly, and it works well. I find that most of us who have the cheap, round, white models seem to covet the aptly named Excalibur, square, majestic, faster, and without the challenges that come up around doing anything on a tray the shape of a tire. If you really want to go for it, there are also a few pricey stainless steel models out there that do all the good work with out the slowly heating plastic leaching chemicals into your food. Someday, someday. But until then, the cheap, round, white model does the job.
Spicy Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
makes 3 round dehydrator trays, or 2 baking sheets
2 pounds strawberries, hulled
2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon gives a nice bite, and 1/2 teaspoon gives a spicy, adults only fruit roll-up)
1. Combine the the strawberries, applesauce, honey, lemon juice, and cayenne in the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust for spice and sweetness.
2. If you’re using a dehydrator, grease the sheets (not the ones with holes) of the dehydrator. You can also line the sheets with parchment, if you prefer. If you’re using the oven, preheat it to 140 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Pour the strawberry mixture onto the trays of the dehydrator or the baking sheets, making sure that you create a very thin layer. Dehydrate at about 140 degrees until the sheets are no longer sticky. In the round models, this could take as long as 24 hours, but in the Excalibur or the oven, it can be as quick as 12 hours.
4. When the fruit roll-ups are ready, they will peel off the tray in one full sheet. Use scissors to cut into squares, and then either roll the squares in pieces of parchment, or put them straight into a jar. Either way, store in an airtight container, and eat within six weeks or so.
I’m not sure what I like better: the idea of making my own fruit leathers, the idea of a pregnant friend giving birth in a strawberry patch, or the image of you and your daughter gifting her cut hair to the birds.
I think I like all three.
Jennifer L. says
I wonder if lining the plastic piece with parchment paper first would work? I haven’t used my dehydrator much. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Yes, Jennifer- you can definitely line those sheets with parchment paper. I only have 2 of the plastic pieces for the dehydrator, so I’ll often line a third tray (one of the ones with holes) with parchment. Either you can do a little art project and cut the whole shape out of parchment, or you can just lay straight strips over each other, which is a bit more messy. I’m not sure if the parchment is a barrier from the BPA? It would be great if it was! Any one have any thoughts on this one?
Rebecca Strout says
We are going to make our own solar dehydrator this summer! I can’t wait to make my own fruit roll ups and so many other delicious foods. I think we’ll make this one: http://naturewitch.blogspot.com/2008/10/solar-food-dehydrator.html
My mom used to make all kinds of fruit leathers when I was growing up! Apricot and peach were the top flavors. I don’t think we ever had strawberry, though! Maybe one of these days I will get a dehydrator and give it a try. 🙂
Oooh! spicy fruit rollups. Great idea! Love that picture of your friend in the strawberry patch. Sounds like something my midwife friend would recommend to bring on labor, “Now go get down on your hands and knees and pick strawberries for hours!” Too bad it didn’t work…
We have a small strawberry patch in the backyard – one 4 x 8 raised bed. This was a good year and we got quite a few small bowls of berries to enjoy with our breakfast and enough for one decent size batch of strawberry rhubarb jam. Alas, our strawberries are pretty much done for the all too short season . . . could I sub the strawberries for another fruit? Mango maybe?
Oh, yes- you can really use anything! And Mango would be fabulous- maybe sub lime in for the lemon?
Thanks – I will be giving this a try ASAP! Love your blog.
Let me know how it is! One thing- I think if you’re using mango, you might want to lessen the honey a touch, as mangos are so sweet. Taste the blended mixture first and then adjust as need be.
Just received your book yesterday, and immediately read it cover to cover, standing where I was! Can’t wait to dive in. (I’m a fellow Bay-Stater, but found you down some internet rabbithole)
These would be great for my boys, but our oven only goes as low as 170. You mention 165 in the book… am I still in a safe temp range?
Thanks so much for all your wonderful reciepies – one of my 5 y/os loves to cook with me, this will be so fun. He trys more things when he helps make it, too – such a bonus!
The best thing to do is just to try it out and play around with your oven. You should be okay, as long as your oven doesn’t run hot. Do you have a thermometer in there so you know it’s really at 170? If need be and you’re oven’s electric, you can always open your oven a crack (an energy waster, but it drops the temp). Just keep an eye on it, and check it every few hours. It should be a little sticky, but not wet at all. And remember to line your baking sheets with parchment, too. (And thanks for your sweet words about the book!)
Do you have a dehydrator recommendation? Type, size?
I’ve got this one: http://www.amazon.com/Nesco-FD-75PR-700-Watt-Food-Dehydrator/dp/B000FFVJ3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343238350&sr=8-1&keywords=dehydrator, and it works well, although I dream of this one, which people seem to love:
Chantel, I’ve never had any problems with getnitg them off the sheets as long as they’re not too thin. However, now thinking about it, I don’t just leave them in the dehydrator to dry. I check on them periodically during the drying and try easing them off little by little at a corner. If they don’t loosen from the sheet, I’ll wait a little longer and come back. Eventually they will come off the sheet. Then I’ll turn them over and let them dry on the other side. Not sure if that’s needed really. I just get impatient and want to get them done.