Blood Orange and Strawberry Fruit Leather ~ Gourmet Edition ~
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Last week I made a pass through Whole Foods in Portland and much to my delight I found blood oranges were in season. As I have been in deep development of fruit leathers this past month, I now look at produce in a whole new way. What would blood oranges taste like in fruit leathers?! One way to find out…buy some and make some! This recipe has a very powerful and strong flavor combo. I recommend segmenting the orange slices to avoid any bitter flavor from the orange membrane, but it isn’t necessary. It will depend on how ripe the orange is and sometimes the membrane can be bit bitter. When preparing raw foods dishes, I can’t stress enough how important it is to taste test as you go. Every recipe has the potential of tasting a tad bit different based on the quality and ripeness of the ingredients used.
Blood Orange… AKA – The Red Rose of the Orange Family
This strikingly beautiful fruit is one of the sweetest in the citrus family. They are juicy, sweet and slightly less acidic than regular oranges. They have a distinctive flavor, which hints of raspberry in addition to the rich orange flavor. The name comes from their extraordinary crimson red flesh. If you have never eaten a blood orange before, now is the time. You will be amazed not only by the taste but the vibrant beauty.
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups puree
- 2 cups fresh organic strawberries
- 1 blood orange, peeled and segmented (see below)
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- Select RIPE or overly ripe strawberries that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
- Puree the fruit and vanilla bean pod, 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
How to segment an orange:
- Slice a little off the top and bottom - This will give you a stable cutting surface and make it easier to trim away the rest of the peel.
- Trim away the skin and pith - A paring knife is a good size to use. Start at the top and slice downwards following the curve of the fruit. Try to cut away all of the skin and the pith without also taking too much of the fruit.
- Cut into one of the segments - Do this next step over a bowl to catch the juice. (A reward to drink after all your hard work :) Slip the knife between one of the segments and the connective membrane. Cut until you reach the middle of the orange, but don’t cut through any of the membrane.
- Scoop out the segment - Use a scooping motion to turn the knife back on itself, hook under the bottom edge of the citrus segment, and pry it away. The side that is still attached to a membrane will peel away, leaving you with a perfect wedge.
- Repeat with all the other segments - Continue on with the next segment. Slide your knife between the membrane and the segment, and then pop the segment out.
- Once you get the hang of popping out each segment, it’s actually pretty fun as you get a rhythm going. Please go slowly at first to avoid any knife accidents, please!