Do you have a bunch of ripe fruit you don’t know what to do with? Frozen enough banana bread to feed the neighborhood for weeks? Kids are sick of smoothies? Dehydrating is a quick and easy way to preserve your overripe fruits, and the roll-ups will keep for a month on the shelf (I’ve read they will keep a whole year if wrapped well and frozen, although they’ve never lasted long enough for me to find out!).
I have a nice dehydrator that I use, but fruit leather can also be dried in the oven. The process couldn’t be easier:
Blend your fruit(s)
Pour onto tray
Blending The Fruit
Basically, any fruit can be used, either singly or in combination with other fruits. Spices may be added for variety, if desired. I prefer to use overripe bananas as my base, and add other fruit to that. The batch I made this week had several combinations: Banana/peach, banana/plum, banana/strawberry, banana/peanut butter, and one tray of just pureed grapes.
The riper the fruit, the better. I like to take my bananas and smoosh them up as I’m placing them into my blender. I then add whatever other fruit I’m using (cut up small), and pulse until everything is blended, with a fairly smooth consistency. Some small chunks are just fine and add a nice texture to the finished fruit leather. I used approximately 2 bananas and two pieces of the larger fruit (peaches, plums) per tray. With the strawberry/banana blend, I used about a cup of berries to every two bananas.
Pouring The Mixture
I have a couple silicone tray liners for my dehydrator that work very well, but they can get pricey. If you don’t have the liners, a layer of parchment paper cut to fit your tray will work perfectly. If using your oven, simply line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the blended fruit onto your parchment or silicone and spread out thinly with a spatula. I find that once I get the fruit spread out where I want it, I just lightly tap the tray on the counter and it evens everything out nicely.
To dehydrate in your oven, just use the lowest temperature, place the cookie sheet on the middle rack, and wait 6-8 hours. I usually set my dehydrator at around 135 degrees, and it takes about 8-12 hours. Your fruit leather is done when it is tacky, but not wet. When you touch the fruit leather, your finger should be a bit sticky, but there should be no visible fruit on it.
Peel the finished fruit leather from your silicone/parchment liner, roll up tightly, and slice crosswise into little rounds. They store well in a Rubbermaid container or Ziploc bag.
First off, I’d like to apologize for my recent hiatus from The Zesty Bohemian. The past couple months have been an absolute whirlwind and blogging just had to get put on the back burner for a bit.
I will save the story of the incredible journey to this new place for another time. So many seemingly “impossible” things had to happen for this move to occur, and I am still pinching myself to make sure it’s real.
We had begun to realize that there were some major limitations with our former property. The fact that it was an overpriced parcel with astronomical interest rates topped the list. For as hard as I have worked these past five years, I should not have still been living in a dilapidated camper and using a Port-a-Potty. But on top of the high mortgage payment, there were many additional costs each month: $260.00 for the septic guys to come empty the Blue Hell Box on a weekly basis, ridiculous cooling and heating costs due to maintaining 7 small, poorly insulated buildings instead of one single house, and very high grocery bills due to the inability to buy in bulk and safely store and preserve foodstuffs. After crunching some numbers, it became apparent that I could spend nearly the same amount of money each month and actually live in a real house, with a real kitchen and real indoor bathrooms. The search was on.
Well, That Didn’t Take Long..
Of course, in classic Zesty Bohemian style, I put an offer on the very first house I looked at. I had been fully prepared to spend a lot of time looking at houses, but this property checked nearly every box for us–and then some.
We now have a respectable 5.41 acres. Approximately 2 acres are recently planted Timothy hay. A local farmer will cut the hay a couple times a year and then either buy all the hay or leave half of it for us to sell. Either way, it’s a nice little passive income stream that I hadn’t counted on.
I’ve gone from having NO bathroom to two full baths. There are closets and storage areas everywhere. A massive wraparound porch to watch the storms roll in. A private patio off my bedroom (It needs some landscaping and personality added to it, but that’s a fun job). Central air. Read that again: Central air! A pantry. Finally, somewhere to store bulk food and my canning jars. I will be able to can, dehydrate, and lacto ferment my little heart out. There are beautiful French doors leading to the master bedroom. The original portion of the house (Late 1800s) has hardwood flooring and crystal doorknobs. The previous owners added on a bedroom and bathroom and installed all new appliances, plumbing, electric service, furnace, and metal roof. There is a four-monitor security camera system with night vision to keep an eye on things.
We have absolute privacy with beautiful views from every part of the house. It’s closer to my work, cutting my travel time by a third. There is a huge fenced-in area to keep the dogs safe and away from my (future) gardens, and plenty of room for chickens and a goat or two in the future. Gooseberries, mulberries, blackberries, passionfruit, plantain, clover, violets, prickly lettuce, mimosa trees, and sumac are all over the place! The abundance of this property astounds me, and I am finding new things to marvel at every time I take a walk.
And for the cherry on top, there is a new small storage shed, which is exactly what we needed to expand Abundance Mushrooms and allow us to handle bigger orders.
They haven’t been spotted yet, but we apparently have a shy mama fox in a den here. There is also a male fox nearby who strolls over to eat some cat food around dawn, and probably comes to visit mama fox from time to time.
Moving a Homestead Is a Logistical Nightmare
The actual physical move has been quite the adventure. We are about 22 miles from our old property, and Justin and Herman are both staying there for the time being, so the move didn’t have to be all done in a single weekend. Which is a good thing, because over the years we have accumulated an incredible amount of stuff! Not knick-knacks and clothes–those would be easy. We needed to move things like entire buildings, tractors, zero-turns, greenhouses, building supplies, and tools to fix just about anything that breaks. Day one we moved over the essentials: Basic cooking utensils, beds, and toiletries. The second day the 16×20 lab made the journey over, a nerve-wracking (and expensive!) venture, to say the least. Today, a friend is loading the tractor and zero-turn on his truck and delivering them for us.
We have most everything for daily living here at the new place, but there are many, many more trips in our future. The old school bus is nearly operational again and will be pressed into service as a moving truck soon.
I think the most exciting thing for me is the fact that now I will actually have the ability to do the things I’m passionate about on a regular basis. I have a place to can, dehydrate, lacto ferment, garden, raise chickens, forage, store food, and take nice pictures for my “How-To” blogs. I am still toying with the idea of making some “How-To” videos on YouTube now that I have a real kitchen and some actual photography equipment.
I know this is short and sweet, but I wanted to explain my recent absence and share my good news. Looking forward to having much more to share from here on out, so stay tuned..
I know for sure that Spring is here: Thursday I caught my first glimpses of the redbud trees starting to blossom. I just love those beautiful trees. Dogwoods and Cottonwoods are also in bloom, and the quince bush is full of delicate, deep pink flowers. I finally got the time this weekend to work in the greenhouse and walk around the property taking some nice pictures of Spring in action.
Quite honestly, I feel like a bit of a fraud this season. My work at the clinic has been so crazy and all my spare time has been invested in helping to get my son’s new business off the ground (Abundance Mushroom Company: Everything you need for growing your own mushrooms at home, for the hobbyist or commercial grower). I never even had time to plant my seeds. Fortunately, a local greenhouse has beautiful starts at very reasonable prices, so I was able to plant a few tomatoes and peppers this weekend. We are going to experiment with growing a crop of corn in the greenhouse this year. Should be interestingl
Anyway, with the very real possibility of jumping into the housing market soon and with my lack of available time, it was decided that we would scale back on the planting this year. Herman is handling all the outdoor plants and I have been planning the greenhouse. The goal will be to have enough fresh produce without much extra for canning or preservation. I’m sure I will be dehydrating batches of veggies and canning some Cowboy Candy (sweet pickled jalepeno peppers–awesome on everything), but there will not be any marathon canning weekends at the Homestead this summer/fall. Anything more than we can use will be shared with neighbors, coworkers, and patients.
I hope you enjoy my pics. It was a lot of fun getting back out and enjoying watching Nature wake up after a long, cold, winter.