It’s definitely Blackberry time in the hedgerow. As the August rain has gone, they have dried out and more ripened. There are still plenty to come but try to get out this weekend before the rain returns. While you can use them fresh in lots of ways, the skill is in having different ways of preserving the glut for use through the rest of the year. We put loads in the freezer for crumbles and other puddings. But you can also preserve the glut by making:
- Syrup / Cordial
- Jams / Jellies / Cheese
- Fruit Leathers
- Pickled / bottled fruit
- Ketchups / sauces
- Wine / Liquors (e.g Blackberry Vodka)
One of the less familiar options above is making a fruit leather.
This is a thin, pliable sheet of dried, sweetened fruit purée. They are easy to make and there are endless variations. They usually contain apples, but can use all manner of hedgerow and garden fruit (and even some veg). You can “spice” then up with various additions – spirits, concentrated red wine, spices, chopped nuts and so on. They are very easy to make and can be used over the coming year for:
- Snack for children – no E numbers!
- Fruit teas (just add boiling water)
- Ice cream syrup (add a little boiling water)
- Mixed into fruit cakes or sponge mixtures at the end so it doesn’t dissolve
- Put bits in yoghurt / ice cream / fruit salad
- In a toasted sandwich / baked into a fruit bread
I recently made a blackberry and apple fruit leather with 500g of blackberries, 500g of cooking (or crab) apples, the juice of a lemon and 150g of honey.
Chop the apples and put in a pan with the blackberries and lemon juice.
Cook until the apple is soft. Then rub through a sieve to remove the pips and purée the fruit.
Spread the purée onto lined baking sheets or baking parchment using the back of a spoon to spread it into a thin layer.
You then need to dry the purée. This can be done in a low oven for 12-18 hours (!), a dehydrator, airing cupboard or sun-dried on a warm windowsill. Those are my dehydrator shelves in the above photo, I have cut down cake tin liners to hold the purée.
The dried leather can be rolled up in cling-film or greaseproof paper and stored in airtight container for up to 6 months.