I am so excited to write this post today! Just when I got back from overseas I went to the market with my dad to stock up on food since I had been away for 6 weeks and nothing was left in the house that was failsafe. We came home with a box of pears for $5! Yep, $5. Of course all the pears were nearly ripe so what to do with all the spoils and not enough tummy space for it? You find ways of preserving it, of which one of the ways to preserve fruit is to “leather”. Essentially it is to cook the fruit down to a pulp and then dehydrate it. When you dehydrate food you discourage yeast and bacterial growth because they need water to survive.
I found lots of posts on how to leather fruits and it really seems simple enough. The main steps are to chop up the fruit and boil it down to a puree. Then spread it out to dehydrate it. Once its dehydrated you can then rub it with sugar to help stop it from sticking to each other. A lot of the posts are for fruit other than pears and so when I experimented with it over the weekend I felt there were some things you could skip. So here is what I did to make my pear leather/roll-ups, it doesn’t have measured quantities so I will attempt to describe the process for you to get a feel on what to look out for.
Gluten free, soy free, egg free, nut free, vegan, failsafe
- Ripe pears (as much or as little as you want)
- White sugar (to taste and to rub on if you desire)
- Citric acid (to taste)
- A splash of water
- Peel and chop up your pear. The smaller the pieces the quicker it cooks and becomes soft.
- Place chopped pear in a saucepan with a little water over medium heat. You won’t need much water especially if your pears are very juicy. The water is there to stop the pears from burning as they start to cook. Once they start cooking they should release water and the less water you have to start with means less time to let it evaporate off.
- Cook the pears over medium heat till they become soft and become a pulp. Once that happens you can lower the heat and keep reducing it till there is little water left. Especially look for a layer of water on the top of the pears when it is simmering, you want this to be gone.
- Once as much water is evaporated off as possible without burning the pear pulp on the bottom, take it off the heat and let it cool for a bit.
- Using a stick mixer (or any other equivalent appliance you have) puree the pear pulp till smooth. The smoother the better as it will mean you can have a nice even roll-up.
- At this point, have a taste and see if it is sweet enough. If not, add a bit of sugar. Also, taste for a balance of some tartness and if it lacks then add a sprinkle of citric acid. You won’t need much citric acid as it is quite strong. Make sure you mix well (you can use the stick mixer for this).
- Line a baking tray with some non-stick baking paper (or some people suggest heat proof cling wrap). Pour your pear puree on it and spread it out evenly to a few millimeters thickness.
- Place it in an oven set around 70-80C or a dehydrator to dry for around 8 hours. The oven needs to be below 100C because then you will cause it to boil and caramelise into a hard mess. The aim is to just dry it without further cooking. Alternatively you could try leave it out for a few days. I did it in bursts in the oven over the course of two days to make sure I didn’t over dry it.
- Feel to see if its dry, especially the middle of the tray as that is the last to dry out. If it is very sticky, it is not dry enough. When it dry enough it should be tough enough to be able to peel it off the baking paper without it ripping and it may look more translucent (see picture below). I wasn’t patient enough and the middle was still a little too soft.
- When dry you can peel it of the baking paper, rub it with sugar to stop it sticking on everything and then cut it into strips.
- Store in a dry, airtight container.
I am seriously rationing it because of all the fruit I cooked, it had low yields and I really must restrain myself if it is to last longer than a few days! It takes a lot of time but not much effort so seriously think of doing it because the taste is so worth it!