Honeycrisp Apple and Date Fruit Leather ~ Gourmet Edition ~
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I was first introduced to Honeycrisp apple about 4 years ago. A dear friend of ours, Ed, shared with me how this is one of his all time favorite apples. I hadn’t ever heard of them before but after witnessing his excitement I knew that I had to keep my eyes open for them. My only experience with apples growing up was separating them visually by color; red, green and yellow ones. I never paid attention to the names of them or even gave it much thought they all had different flavor profiles. In fact, I have a funny story to share about that.
I started working full-time when I was 14 years old. We were living in Alaska and I got job working at a grocery store. Through-out my years of working there, I held various positions and did whatever was asked of me. One day I was approached by the store manager and he asked me if I was willing to come in on my day off and work in the produce department handing out apple samples. I agreed. I came in as requested and headed straight back to the produce area to set up my little sampling station. Even back then I was more into decorating and presentation of things so I spent the majority of my time fussing over my stand, trying to make it look pretty. The produce manager told me to set out one of each apple in a row and place cut up samples of each one in front of them. He left and I did as told. But as I stood back and looked at my station it just wasn’t pretty enough. What do they know, I thought. So, I hunted down a beautiful bowl from the floral department (used for making arrangements in) and took all my cut up samples and mixed them together in it. I then strategically placed the whole apples around the bowl. Aaah, so much prettier!
So as the day progressed and customers started to roam around the apple section, I offered samples. They came over to my little station, peered into my big bowl of cut apples and poked a toothpick into them, randomly selecting one. Soon I had a crowd around me! This was exciting. They seemed to love my decorating. Well, that’s what I thought drew them to me. haha Then as though they were all cued, they all starting asking what apple they just ate because they wanted to purchase some. I just shrugged my shoulders, I had no idea. Can’ they see they are all mixed together! Shesh! Question after question… oh this frustrated me, couldn’t they just be happy enough that it looked so pretty? I still chuckle to this very day when I think back to that experience. Needless to say, I was never asked to come back and work the sample stations. Fine by me, those people didn’t appreciate fine art. haha
Anyway, back to the Honeycrisp apple… they are heavenly and can often be hard to find. They have short seasonal window. But should you happen to stumble upon some, snag up a bunch of them up. Eat some raw and fresh by all means, but then make yourself some fruit leathers with them so you can enjoy them well beyond their season.
Ingredients: yields 5 cups puree
- 2 lbs honeycrisp apples
- 1 cup Medjol dates, pitted and soaked (see below)
- 1/2 cup warm water (soak water, see below)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Dates: Place the pitted dates in a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Just enough to rehydrated them.
- Select RIPE apples that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
- Puree the apples, dates, date soak water, cinnamon and salt, in the blender or food processor until smooth. Taste and sweeten more if needed. Keep in mind that flavors will intensify as they dehydrate. When adding a sweetener do so a little at a time, and reblend, tasting until it is at the desired taste. It is best to use a liquid type sweetener. Don’t use a granulated sugar because it tends to change the texture.
- Spread the fruit puree on teflex sheets that come with your dehydrator. Pour the puree to create an even depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. If you don’t have teflex sheets for the trays, you can line your trays with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Do not use wax paper or aluminum foil.
- Lightly coat the food dehydrator plastic sheets or wrap with a cooking spray, I use coconut oil that comes in a spray.
- When spreading the puree on the liner, allow about an inch of space between the mixture and the outside edge. The fruit leather mixture will spread out as it dries, so it needs a little room to allow for this expansion.
- Be sure to spread the puree evenly on your drying tray. When spreading the puree mixture, try tilting and shaking the tray to help it distribute more evenly. Also, it is a good idea to rotate your trays throughout the drying period. This will help assure that the leathers dry evenly.
- Dehydrate the fruit leather at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, reduce temp to 105 degrees (F) and continue drying for about 16 (+/-) hours. Finished consistency should be pliable and easy to roll.
- Check for dark spots on top of the fruit leather. If dark spots can be seen it is a sign that the fruit leather is not completely dry.
- Press down on the fruit leather with a finger. If no indentation is visible or if it is no longer tacky to the touch, the fruit leather is dry and can be removed from the dehydrator.
- Peel the leather from the dehydrator trays or parchment paper. If it peels away easily and holds its shape after peeling, it is dry. If it is still sticking or loses its shape after peeling, it needs further drying.
- Under-dried fruit leather will not keep; it will mold. Over-dried fruit leather will become hard and crack, although it will still be edible and will keep for a long time
- Storage: to store the finished fruit leather…
- Allow the leather to cool before wrapping up to avoid moisture from forming, thus giving it a breeding ground for molds.
- Roll them up and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.
- Place in an air-tight container, and store in a dry, dark place. (Light will cause the fruit leather to discolor.)
- The fruit leather will keep at room temperature for one month, or in a freezer for up to one year.