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Balsamic Vinegar Peppercorn Peach Fruit Leather ~ Gourmet Edition ~

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Do you want to confuse your taste buds?  Send them on a guessing game as to just what the heck took place in your mouth?  Are you the adventurous type who isn’t a afraid to try new flavor sensations?  If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, this recipe was made for you.   The experience that will take place in your mouth will happen in layers.

You take a bite, and with your tongue you press the fruit leather to the roof of your mouth.  You start to suck on it and the flavors start to voice themselves.  First, comes the  peach, it offers up an acidic tang slowly coupled with a twinge of sweetness.

As you continue to savor the bite of fruit leather you will then get a faint hint of the balsamic vinegar.  However, this layer of flavor will truly depend on the quality of balsamic that you use.  There is a huge difference.  Traditional aged balsamic vinegar, produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, can cost $200 per bottle.  You can also walk into any local supermarket and fork over $2 or $3 for a big bottle of balsamic vinegar.  Tasted straight from the bottle, there was no contest between supermarket and traditional balsamics. Even the best of the commercial brands-while similarly sweet, brown, and viscous—wouldn’t compete with the complex, rich flavor of true balsamic vinegar. With notes of honey, fig, raisin, caramel, and wood; a smooth, lingering taste; and an aroma like fine port, traditional balsamic is good enough to sip like liqueur.  I am not saying that I or you need to pay $200 for a vinegar in order for this recipe to turn out  but I just wanted to point out that there is a range of price and the flavor pairs with it.

Then just as you swallow your bite of fruit leather… wait for it, wait for it… the pepper hits you!  It really is a neat experience to be had.

I hope you give this recipe and try.  If you do, please let me know what you think.

Ingredients: yields 4 cups puree

  • 5 cups fresh, sliced peaches
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds, ground in spice grinder
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
Preparation:
  • Select RIPE or slightly overripe peaches that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor.
  • Prepare the peaches; wash, dry, and remove stones.
  • Puree the peaches, ground chia, balsamic vinegar, black peppercorns and salt, in the blender or food processor until smooth.  Taste and sweeten 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.  
    • Allow the puree to sit for 10 minutes so the chia has time to thicken the puree.
  • 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.  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 it 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.

To make the best peach recipes, you need to start the best peaches… here is how.

At the grocery store or fruit stand:

  • Look for peaches that are “tree ripened” or “California Well Mature.”  This will mean that the peaches reached their maturity before being picked.
  • Pay attention to how your supermarket stores peaches.  Supermarkets should store peaches in open bins, not in the cold section.

Now make your selection:

  • When selecting peaches, look for those that are well-rounded, with shades of deep yellow skin coloring under a red blush.
  • Ripe peaches will yield to gentle pressure, particularly along the seam, and give off a sweet fragrance.
  • Peaches selected when they are brightly colored but firm to moderately hard will ripen in two to three days at room temperature.
  • Avoid peaches that are stored cold, are rock hard, green, or mushy, or have shriveled skins,  because they will never ripen properly or taste good.

Once at home:

  • At home, store peaches on the counter at room temperature until ripe.
  • To quicken the ripening process, place peaches in a paper bag until fully ripe.  Adding ethylene-producing fruit like bananas and apples to the paper bag will further accelerate the ripening process.
  • When ripe, peaches should be stored in the refrigerator until eaten, but only for a couple of days because the cold storage will reduce their juice and flavor.
  • Before eating peaches, wash them in cool water and dry with a paper towel or soft cloth to remove the remaining fuzz.  Most of the fuzz should be already removed by the commercial washing process.

 

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