Monday, October 06, 2008
Autumn Olive Recipe Time
I have a confession to make. If it weren't for my Autumn Olive Jam Recipe, I would have lots fewer readers. It seems that all over the country people are wondering what they can do with the fruit of these invasives.
I still have jars of jam from last year, so this year I thought I would make fruit leather. All summer I had been meaning to buy a dehydrator, and here I am a the end of the season without one, so this recipe will be for the oven dried variety of fruit leather.
My objective in making the fruit leather was to use it cut up in small chunks the size of dried cranberries to use in salads. I didn't want too sweet a flavor.
Why eat Autumn Olive berries?
I like the berries because they have that cranberry flavor that we associate with eating game in the fall months. But the best reason is that it is an unexpectedly rich source of lycopene ... nearly 15 times that of raw tomatoes.
Picking the berries
Not all Autumn Olive bushes are equal. Before you start loading your buckets, roam your picking area and taste them. I find that bushes that get morning sun, but shade from 11:00 AM on yield the sweetest berries. The sweeter the berry, the less sugar you will need. Although sweet is a relative term here ... these berries are a might tart. I look for plump bright red berrries. I use a shopping bag as my bucket and place the fruit laden branch inside the bag and strip them from the branch. For rthis recipe you will need 4 cups of pulp. I had to pick about 7 cups of berries.
Autumn Olive Fruit Leather
4 cups of Autumn Olive Berry pulp
1 Tbsp Lemon juice (optional)
2 Tablespoons local honey (helps make the leather more pliable)
10 drops of liquid Stevia
To make the berry pulp, add one half cup of water to every 4 cups of berries and boil on the stove until the seeds have separated from the berry. (I actually added sprigs of mint to the berries at this stage. It is also where you would add the lemon juice if using.) Run through a food mill or a sieve and return pulp to a saucepan on the stove. Add the honey and Stevia. If you want a sweeter fruit leather, then add sugar one tablespoon at a time to the simmering pulp, tasting for desired sweetness. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the pulp on the parchment to a 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Place in a 140 degree oven (mine doesn't stay that low so I did mine at 170 degrees) for 10-12 hours. You can tell if it is ready by peeling it from the parchment and by touching it in the center of the tray. When it is done it will be tacky but not sticky. Also when it has cooled it is more likely to be less sticky than when you test it when it is warm.
Storing the fruit leather
I decided to cut mine in half lengthwise. I stored one half by rolling it in plastic wrap and putting it in the freezer. The second half I halved again and put a plastic wrapped roll in the fridge and the other half I cut up into little pieces to use in salads where I would normally use dried cranberries. These I stored in a glass jar.