Do you remember those hard sugared candies called Jolly Ranchers? When I was a little girl, I would spend my summers with my great grandparents. Great Grandma would give me a handfull of coins, and with my new-found riches in my pocket, I would ride my banana seat bike to town. (a whole 2 blocks away). My favorite store was good ole’ Benjamin Franklin, five and dime discount store.
With pocket full of pennies, nickles and dimes, I could do some pretty good damage shopping there. I could buy goldfish for ten cents apiece and trust me, I brought a fair share home with me. But there was one isle that always called my name…it was a row, a long row, of single packaged candy pieces that only cost anywhere from one penny to ten cents a piece. A quarter could really fill my pockets to overflowing. Jolly Ranchers were one of those candies that I always snatched up… Green Apple ones… Now mind you, I haven’t had one of these candies for YEARS but as soon as I made this recipe, it took me spiraling down memory lane to those days of lingering in the candy aisle, carefully selecting twenty-five pieces of candy for the day. It’s good to know that I can revisit that taste sensation, relax in my warm memories and eat this all natural, whole, raw, sugar-free treat.
Ingredients: yields 5 cups puree
- 2 lbs Gravenstein apples
- 1/4 cup whole chia seeds, ground in spice grinder
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Select RIPE Gravenstein apples that have reached a peak in color, texture, and flavor. (see below)
- Prepare the apples; wash, dry, core and rough chop.
- Puree the apples, ground chia 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 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 rest for at least 10 minutes allowing the chia seeds to absorb some of the liquid released by the apples.
- 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.
Dehydrate the fruit leather at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, reduce temp to 105 degrees (F) and continue drying for about 4 hours.
- 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.
Transfer the semi-dried banana chips onto the leather, gently pressing them in. Continue drying for about 4-6 hours or until done. 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.
Storage: to store the finished fruit leather…
- 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
- 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.
For the best tasting recipe, you need to the best tasting apples. Here is how to select them:
- A Good-quality Gravenstein apple will be firm with smooth, clean skin and have good color for the variety.
- Test the firmness of the apple by holding it in the palm of your hand. (Do not push with your thumb). It should feel solid and heavy, not soft and light.
- Avoid apples with soft or dark spots.
- If the apple skin wrinkles when you rub your thumb across it, the apple has probably been in cold storage too long or has not been kept cool.
Gravenstein apples are available in the Fall.
- To store, keep apples as cold as possible in the refrigerator. Apples do not freeze until the temperature drops to 28.5°F.