Blackberries contain an extremely dark pigment which allows them to be used as a colorant and gives them one of the highest antioxidant ratings in common fruits and berries. Rich in ellagic acid, anthocyanins and antioxidants, they have been called the “king of berries” for their superior health benefits.
So, eat up! In todays recipe I wanted test out the combination of blackberries and lavender. The end result didn’t leave me disappointed. It is a very unique blend.
I have shared about using lavender in previous recipes but I want to do a recap here for those of you who haven’t browsed through many of the recipes (yet! :) Lavender is not a very common ingredient used in the kitchen so I think it is important to share what I have learned so far…
The flavor of lavender is delicate , floral, with lemon and citrus notes are a good way to describe the taste of lavender. I am just amazed as how wonderful this delicate flavor balanced so well with the peach. A true match made in heaven, or at least in the Oldfather Farm Kitchen.
You can use the flowers, leaves or stems. I like to us the delicate buds because the taste of the leaves and stems are stronger and can be bitter. The key to cooking with lavender is to experiment; start out with a small amount and add more as you go. As in all herbs, the dried is more concentrated in flavor. Always start with a small amount than you might expect and work the flavor profile up to your liking. If you add to much it can taste like perfume and there isn’t much you can do to save the recipe.
Chopping or bruising the buds will help release the flavor. Chopping can be done easily in a food processor, coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you use a grinder, you may need to add enough volume of flower buds to avoid a purple tornado that just spins and spins, thus not breaking down. I did a couple of tablespoons at a time and stored it in a dark glass jar out of the light.
Select RIPE or slightly overripe blackberries that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
Prepare the blackberries; wash and lightly pat dry. (wash only when ready to use so molds don’t set in)
Puree the fruit, stevia, and lavender 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 1 tbsp 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 of the finished fruit leather.
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, then reduce temp to 115 degrees (F) for about 16 (+/-) hours. Flip the leather over about half way through, remove the teflex sheet and continue drying on the mesh sheet. 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 the fruit leather 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 the fruit leather peels away easily and holds its shape after peeling, it is dry. If the fruit leather 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. Click (here) to see photos on how I wrap them.
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.
Why do I start the dehydrator at 145 degrees (F). Click (here) to learn the reason behind this.
When working with fresh ingredients it is important to taste test as you build a recipe. Learn why (here).
Don’t own a dehydrator? Learn how to use your oven (here). I do however truly believe that it is a worthwhile investment. Click (here) to learn what I use.