How did I make it 41 years without ever picking a blackberry?! Life is so short and I have so much to do! As I was blending the berries into a puree my breath was taken away by the color of the pureed blackberries. I tried so hard to capture it in photographs but I just don’t have the skill to do that. Though the berries come off looking black, they actually had a very deep, velvety purple color to them once pureed. The liquid was so gorgeous that I was tempted to bathe in it. And those that know me well will all say, ”There’s our Amie Sue.” haha
Today, my girlfriend, Gina, and I braved the thorn infested vines and collected quite a bit of these luscious berries. It did not come easy. The vines came alive as we got closer and wrapped themselves around us, sinking their hooks into our clothing or flesh and wouldn’t let go without a fight. Note to self ~ do NOT wear flip-flops next time. I lost track of how many times I would hear, “Ouch!” coming from Gina or from my lips… but in the end, it was worth it. We have oodles, I mean oodles, of these blackberry bushes on our land. They are rather invasive but that is ok by me. The “life” that surrounds us brings me so much peace and joy.
These berries are made up of lots of tiny, round, shiny berries that are stuck together—an aggregate fruit. Each tiny berry in the cluster has its own seed, so one animal eating one fruit spreads many seeds. If you’ve never eaten a blackberry before, it tastes sweet, juicy, and kind of like raspberries. It may taste tart, kind of sour or slightly bitter if it’s not really ripe. Select plump, firm, fully black berries. Unripe berries will not ripen once picked. A ripe blackberry is deep black with a plump, full feel. It will pull free from the plant with only a slight tug. If the berry is red or purple, it’s not ripe yet.
Ingredients: yields 8 cups puree
- 7 cups fresh blackberries
- 4 cups sliced fresh peaches
- 2 Tbsp vanilla infused agave nectar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Select RIPE or slightly overripe blackberries that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
- Prepare the blackberries; wash and lightly pat dry.
- Puree the fruit, chia, stevia, lavender and almond extract 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 105 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.
- 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.