Take that fruit and roll it!
August 26th, 2011 - By Therese Madden
That's what Fair Food Farmstand employee Yvonne Jones did when apricots came into season. She challenged herself to learn to love this fruit that she had never really cared for. Now a self-proclaimed "fruit leather enthusiast," Jones has plans to start a business making and selling these healthy, portable snacks; while preserving the season's bounty. We visit her at her home to see how it's done.
'Tis the season for ripe fruit. So, why not make some fruit leathers? Not familiar? Fruit leather's are basically the homemade, more natural version of the popular lunch room snack, Fruit Roll Ups. I did buy a box of this brand name, it's strawberry flavored, but in the list of ingredients there are no strawberries. There was some pear concentrate and plenty of corn syrup. Homemade fruit leathers on the other hand? You have control of the ingredients. "I'm Yvonne Jones and I am a relatively new fruit leather enthusiast."
Yvonne Jones is in her small studio apartment beginning a new batch of fruit leathers. All summer she's been taking advantage of whatever's in season; strawberry, apricots, today it's nectarines. And judging from the smell, they are super ripe. Yvonne cuts the fruit into pieces, keeping the skin on, “fruit leathers are really good for people who buy fruit and forget it, which is completely foreign to me." Yvonne doesn't have a problem eating her fruit before it goes bad, she does however have another reason for wanting healthy portable snacks. "I'm a little bit border line hypoglycemic, like I'm somebody who my sugar will dip and it's not good, and carrying some kind of emergency snack food is an issue for me." Pre-packaged snacks do help in a pinch, but she'd rather have something more natural, and fruit doesn't always travel well.
Plus, as with anything homemade, you can experiment with flavors. Yvonne adds honey and lime to the bowl of nectarines, "I'm going to squeeze one of these beautiful limes all over the nectarines." She sets the mixture aside for 10 minutes to marinate and then purées the ingredients with a hand held immersion blender. Next she pours the orange and red flecked purée onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, turns the oven to 175° and lets it cook for between 4 to 6 hours. "So, if this were cooking show I would take this and put in the oven and pull out a perfect nectarine honey lime fruit leather." "And then I would taste it and say hmmm delicious." "And then you would say something like it's just a few ingredients that's crazy, and I would say, yep! It's just that easy Therese…"