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Cherry Fruit Leather from Fresh Cherries

Sugar, water, cherries

Sugar, water, cherries (There’s a few Mt. Raniers in there.)

With cherries in season and some deals here and there, I had some on hand. Unfortunately, nobody was eating them and they were just passing their prime. Having recently discovered that my almost 15 month old grandson was very enthusiastic with the discovery of “Fruit by the Foot” snacks, I decided to pull out the dehydrator and give it a shot. By coincidence, I happened to find a deal on some Presto brand liners for making fruit leather and had bought a couple. That probably spurred me on a bit as well. My dehydrator is a Nesco brand, however, and it has a bigger center hole than the Presto model, so the dehydrator motor would not fit through the Presto accessory’s center hole.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole...oops.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole…oops.

Having already poured the fruit puree, my best bet was to put the trays at the bottom with the empty ones on top. Those, plus the lid, got me close…still sticking up a little, but enough for the dehydrator to work.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

As for the fruit leather, I looked around on Pinterest and found a recipe that looked like what I was searching for. The recipe, at http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/cherry-fruit-leather/  (credit where due!), specifies using an oven at 170F and sheet pans with silicone liners, but I figured that substituting a dehydrator would be no problem. I will admit  that I didn’t really measure my cherries…but I think I was in the neighborhood of four cups. In the end, I perfectly lined the 2 inserts, with none left over.

One tip: double check your cherries for pits. I thought I was careful, but a couple made it into the blender and I had  to run the puree through a sieve. I left behind a little fiber and peel, I guess, but I think I would add that step anyway, for a smoother puree. So, here’s the recipe:

 

Cherry Fruit Leather

4 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Directions

Add the water and the fruit to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a potato masher to mash the cherries as they cook. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until well broken down. (I must admit that I added the sugar also and it seems to have turned out okay, though it was supposed to be added later.)

Mashed cherries simmering.

Mashed cherries simmering.

Transfer the cooked fruit to a blender, in batches, and blend until smooth. I did mine in 2 batches. Be careful with hot stuff in blenders! I left the center hole open and covered with a towel, to avoid building pressure and causing a hot fruit puree explosion.

Pureed and strained.

Pureed and strained.

Return the puree to the saucepan…after passing through a sieve, if necessary or desired. Add the sugar…if you didn’t do it when I did, by mistake. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened some. Remove from heat and stir bubbles down a bit.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Lightly spray your dehydrator disks with a nonstick spray or lightly brush with oil and place on dehydrator trays. Ladle the puree onto disks and carefully give a jiggle to even out puree.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Add the cover and the motor and dehydrate until a little tacky to touch, but not dried out completely. (Although…it needed to be a little drier than I thought.) Should be between 4 to 7 hours, depending on your dehydrator, humidity, etc. (Mine actually took more like nine hours.) Allow to cool. Peel from dehydrator inserts and store, rolled in wax paper or parchment and stored in an airtight container, up to one month. (Cut in smaller strips, if desired.) Enjoy!

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

I did need to go to the longer period of time for the dehydrator…actually, well beyond. One tray was a little thicker than the other and, when I touched it, it kind of schmudged it some. Yeah…made up that word. And I turned it off after about 5 hours, thinking it was done. I decided it wasn’t done, later, after it had cooled. I popped the trays back in the dehydrator and let them go another 3 or 4 hours. The thicker one then went another hour. But they turned out fine, in the end, and taste good. Live and learn. Next time, the process will be smoother.

 

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Organic Homemade Pesticide for Your Garden

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Last year, I decided to build a raised bed garden, so that I might grow a few things on my otherwise desolate little spot of earth. I was moderately successful…I had a bunch of squash and grape tomatoes, some jalapenos and bigger tomatoes…my green beans were a bust.

Raised garden. About 6'x12'

Raised garden. About 6’x12′

But I’m learning! Last year, I found on Pinterest, an organic pesticide that I made at home. This year, I’m starting to get something chewing on my pepper plants, mainly and some Swiss Chard. So, I went to look it up on my board and found that the link was dead. I did a little searching and found another similar recipe. It called for a fresh jalapeno, which I did not have; so I remembered the other recipe used cayenne powder and that the important thing is the capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in peppers. The following recipe is what I put together for this year. A couple of notes: first, be VERY aware of your hands, eyes and tender tissues. You may want to wear gloves. Do NOT rub your eyes, scratch your nose or use the bathroom during this process without thoroughly scrubbing your hands FIRST! Second, my recipe isn’t 100% organic when I use Dawn brand dish detergent; but, if you get something like Seventh Generation or other brand of dish detergent that is vegetable based and organic, you can get back that last 1%. Happy bug deterrence!

Ingredients in food processor.

Ingredients in food processor.

 

Homemade Organic Pesticide

1 Onion, peeled, cut into large pieces

1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 gallon Water, hot (not boiling, just hot from the tap)

1 tablespoon of dish detergent. (Use 2 tablespoons if using organic)

In a pot big enough to hold more than a gallon of water, add the water. In a food processor or blender, add the other ingredients except the detergent and process at high speed for about a minute.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Puree mixed with a gallon of hot water.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

Onions, cayenne, red pepper flakes, pureed.

 

Stop, scrape the sides down, and process a little longer. Using a couple of layers of cheesecloth (or an old t-shirt you can discard afterwards), strain the pulp from the liquids.

Pot with cheeseloth.

Pot with cheeseloth.

The pulp can be composted or thrown away. Using a funnel, add the detergent to a storage container with a closable cap or lid and the dish detergent. I use a class carboy from my local brewshop, but you could wash out an empty milk jug. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and make sure you mark it with a warning and use it only for this purpose!

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

A jug and a spray bottle. a batch of organic pesticide.

Clean all your supplies well…the dishwasher is a good idea for anything that will fit. And WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY!!!

Apply as a mist or spray on your plants. This is not a bug killer, it is a deterrent. You don’t need to spray streams on the bugs themselves.

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