Classic apple fruit leather is probably the easiest fruit leather you’ll ever make. It’s a good place to start if you’ve never made leather before. The reason it’s so easy? It’s simply applesauce poured into your dehydrators.
Since this leather is so easy, I’ll take the time here to discuss dehydrators. I have a Nesco dehydrator. I wish it were square. My grandmother’s was rectangular. My mother assures me that round is the best drying power because of the hole in the middle, and an even distribution from that hole. I don’t know. I still wish it were square like this one, but she’s probably right. There’s just no good way to keep a pie-shaped fruit leather in nice rectangular roll. My mom says I’m being silly. Isn’t dried-thoroughly better than cut-square? She’s probably right. But in the meantime, I usually just store mine in pie wedges. I bet if I sliced them a bit thinner, my kiddo would eat them better, because believe it or not, a whole pie shape is a lot of fruit to swallow. She’d probably eat them better if instead of dividing the dry fruit-leather pie into 5 sections, I divided it into 15 sections.
My dehydrator says to dry fruits at 135º. The internet says to make it 140º. Following either instruction will leave me with something rubbery and very undesirable. It dries the outside too quickly and leaves the centers still gooey and moisture-laden. Moisture means mold and spoilage. Bad news. I dried my leather between 115 and 125º, depending on the thickness. It actually took less time to dry at that temperature, because the dry was more thorough. It didn’t have to fight a hard crust to get to the moisture.
That brings up another point… Most ovens don’t go below 170°. I’ve never made fruit leather in an oven. I have heard it can be done, but I don’t know what happens to shelf-life. From what I can understand from the process, it will either shorten self-life greatly or it will give you a tough hart-to-chew product. The internet is full of how to dehydrate in an oven. Most say cook at 175º for 2-4 hours, checking after 1 hour. I think the oven is good in a pinch, but you really should consider a dehydrator if you like the idea of homemade fruit leather. It will give you safer results.
Also note, these recipes are the right size for my dehydrator trays. You may need to adjust the amounts for your own individual trays/drying methods.
Now, on a more specific note, classic apple leather is my daughter’s favorite. She likes things plain and simple. I personally think it’s kind of… boring. But if your kid (or you) like boring, you may love this leather.
The recipe? Just 1 1/2 c of applesauce. Smooth it onto the tray in as even layer as you can get. The smoother you can get the applesauce, the better it will dry. I plan on investing in a silicone bench scraper, though I don’t own one yet. I think it’d be perfect for getting the layer smooth. My spatula doesn’t quite cut it for me. It works for now, but I’d like an upgrade.
I don’t have any fruit leather trays, and I am on the fence about getting them. Sometimes the food just sticks to them. Instead, I take a square section of parchment paper, place it over the dehydrator tray to mark where I need to make a few cuts to fit over the center vent and then mark the edge of the tray, as well. (I just set it on the tray and rub my fingers over the tray and let a crease form, then I use that as a guide to cut. It’s an imperfect art, but I like the results. I also don’t cut the center all the way off, but make lots of slits, so that if anything is runny, it has less of a chance of falling through the layers. That’s a mess.
Classic Apple Fruit Leather
Author: Keira @ Searchforseven.com
1 1/2 c applesauce
Parchment paper (or leather trays)
spatula or bench scraper
Spread the applesauce evenly on the dehydrator tray lined with parchment paper
Turn dehydrator on and let it do it’s work for 6-8 hours. I start the dehydrator in the morning and turn it off in the afternoon or evening, depending on when it’s done.
Cut the leather into desired strips or sections. somewhere between 5-15 sections is ideal.
This little birdie likes to sing to me from my window. I have a feeling that isn’t about to change.
I’ve done my research, he’s a red-shafted northern flicker (here’s another link). Apparently only the males have the red on the face. and I know I shouldn’t be happy to have a woodpecker hanging out in my trees, but I don’t really care. Yet, anyway. I haven’t seen much damage from him. And it sounds like if I start to hear him pecking my trees instead of singing to me in the mornings, all I’ve gotta do is give him a man-made bird house and he’ll leave the trees alone. Why do all the work when your shelter becomes free? Otherwise, he’ll keep the bug problem down. We have tons of ants in the summertime (so far I haven’t seen any inside, but we moved in during the fall).
I never really see him anywhere besides my front window and occasionally a tree out front. I’ve never seen or heard him peck anywhere, even when he is hanging out in a tree, so I’m not worried about him, too much.
He’s kind of hard to spot in this picture. Do you see him?
Anyway, until I decide he’s destroying anything, I’ll just listen to him crooning outside my window.
Mice! I hate mice. People tell me that being surrounded by fields means I’m stuck with these rodents, but I refuse to accept it. They’ve gone through a 50 lb bad of wheat! And we wont get into the amount of clothes they’ve destroyed. Why the clothes, I have no idea.
I’ve tried traps. They were really effective for a while. The picture above was the first day I had them out. There were 3 in the trap when I woke up. There were 4 by the time I went to bed. Dumb mice. If the rest of the clan is in there trapped, why on earth would you join them?
I’ve tried mint leaves and mint oil. It works for a while. But then they get used to it.
We’ve tried bait, as much as we’ve hated to. It’s helped us rid the house of a few more.
We’ve tried lavender oil. It did nothing.
We’ve tried steel wool in the holes we’ve found, but they’re just using other holes somewhere.
we were told to try aromatic ceder. We haven’t been able to get our hands on any of that yet.
The best thing to help us get rid of them so far? The cold. Too bad that this is the warmest January I can remember.
Anyone else have any suggestions? Please? And while you’re at it can you come find every nook and cranny they have so they can’t keep getting in?
[warning]warning. This post deals with bodily functions, or the lack thereof. If you can’t handle reading about things our bodies are supposed to do, skip this post.[/warning]
Lol, I might have to change the title if my kiddo ever finds out this post is about her. Our past 4 months have been filled with doctor visits and calls from the school nurse. It has been full of food leaving the body from the top and not from the end that normally handles it.
She is already not a fan of needles. Or of throwing up. And she’s had a ton of both of those for about 4 months now. She rotates between vomiting and complaining of being backed up. The photo above is from one of the vomiting phases. She couldn’t keep anything down, so we had to connect her to an IV drip of fluids. Everyone’s theory? Her body wasn’t able to get food out the right end, so it improvises. She never has a fever, just vomit. Lots of it.
Her pediatrician sent us to a specialist last month, and the Rx is mirilax for 4 months. He says kids who get backed up for so long end up with stretched out intestines. Putting them on laxatives for a day or two is not enough. So, we had to give her seven times the usual dose (emphasis: SEVEN times) in a 3 hour window to flush her out (lol, no pun intended), and then keep her on it for 4 months.
He says some people are just born with an underactive colon; lazy colon, he called it. She is probably one of those people. Since she’s been this way since she was a baby (she was drinking apple juice before she was eating baby cereal), I’m pretty sure that his diagnosis is correct. The only other possibility? Celiac’s disease. They’ve never called me back with the test results, so I’m hoping that means we’re in the clear, there. Fingers crossed.
At any rate, we haven’t had any vomit spells in a while. And we’ve gotta be the only house in the area with a chart in our bathroom that is NOT for brushing teeth (though you wouldn’t know it. It’s discreet). She’s even gone to a smaller daily dose, so things are looking promising.
Oh! and suddenly she’s gained 5 pounds. She’s weighed the same weight for 3 years. It has had me worried. But one month on laxatives and her body has figured out how to gain weight. Dr Grandma says it’s probably because her body can draw nutrients when it’s supposed to now instead of being so stressed and only getting old nutrient-dead stuff in her intestines for longer than it’s supposed to be there. I bet it’s also from the fact that suddenly she can feel hungry again. Her body would have known it was full, just not full of good fresh stuff. I wouldn’t be hungry either, if it was just going to sit in my stomach or come out the wrong end.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m supposed to take a daily dose of aspirin. I meet with my new doc again in a few days and I’ll discuss what I’m supposed to be doing then, but I’m guessing he’ll keep me on it.
But I’m a klutz.
This is what I look like on a regular basis.
My cousin just barely caught me with his fingernail (a short nail) and I bled. Scarred, too. And it wasn’t any big deal. I’ve always got some kind of purple and green and nasty bruise on my legs, either by my knees or on my shins. Just as I think I’m in the clear, I look down and there’s another one. My family will catch me staring at my leg and ask what I did to get the bruise, and I honestly have no idea!
Ranger thinks it’s funny. Mostly because it means I get erm… suction bruises easier. He leaves them on my arm. Just because he can. Seriously! It’s embarrassing. And I never think about it until it’s too late. By the way, when you’re googling “suction bruises,” you get lots of funny stories. In case you were curious.
Having food allergies has taught me so much. It’s also led me to so many doors I otherwise would not have passed through. I never thought I’d be the type to WANT to make homemade pectin, because I didn’t much care for jam. Come to find out, what I didn’t care for was the pectin. It has corn syrup solids in it (called dextrose). No wonder I’d always thought jam was too sweet. I have made preserves, instead, for years, but my husband misses jam. And preserves are not easy! They require standing over a hot stove all day, usually in a hot month. They fog up my windows and the humidity lingers. And they just plain take forever. Still good, though. Just lots of work.
Interestingly, my daughter hated jam as much as I did, but when she tasted some without the added dextrose, she told me instead, “Well maybe I like jam… but only if you make it.” Someday, kid, you’re going to actually put two and two together. Hates marshmallows unless mom makes it… corn. Hates jam unless mom makes it… corn. Not a big candy fan… corn. Kid, you have a corn allergy, too!
I think she doesn’t want to put the pieces together yet. Especially because her other biological relation already ignores her other, clearly tested, and serious allergies. If she recognized this one, she’d have to starve for 2 days.
I’ve made apple pectin before, and if I had to pick just one method, I’d go with citrus from now on. It worked easier and I could see results faster. If you’ve got lots of green, unripe apples, though, you may want to look into the other pectin.
During canning season, I go through lots of lemons. That is one other thing that I have to do now because of allergies. Bottled lemon juice contains a sulfate. Sulfate-anything makes my mouth go numb and my throat swell up. Not a good combo. Plus, fresh lemons are so much better for you. I know that canning people usually say avoid lemons because you can’t guarantee the pH, but I’d rather not die from anaphylaxis . Some day, I might find a way to check the pH of my food and then find out what it’s supposed to be in canning, but I don’t know where to start; which always leaves me spinning in circles. I feel like Captain Jack Sparrow trying to find a certain chest when he doesn’t know what he wants. “Ah! A heading. Set sail in a… uh… a general… that way! direction.”
but I digress. Lemon pectin. Love it. Will never buy a box again. Easy-peasy.
In order to help you understand, lets take a second and go over the parts of a citrus fruit. Biology lesson. Okay, these are not the terms you’d find in a biology textbook. But you would find them in old cookbooks.
Zest: the oily coating on the outside of a lemon, lime, orange, or other citrus fruit. The part of the rind that has the color to it. Strong, potent flavor. Used in essential oils. It really only becomes zest after it’s been grated off of the lemon, but peel becomes so ambiguous and jumbled as part of the rind, that for my purposes, we’ll call it zest.
Pith: the white squishy part of a citrus fruit. Contains the most pectin. Pretty flavorless. Most often discarded (what a shame).
Fruit: the piece of a citrus most commonly used. Contains the juice and the pulp inside of membranes dividing the fruit into sections. Most often used for both consumption and juices.
Pips: the seeds. I don’t know why they’re not just called seeds, but pips sounds fun. Especially when you want both the pips and the pith.
It will be WAY easier on you to grate/peel the lemons first, before you do anything else. Seriously. And before you do THAT you will want to wash/scrub your fruit. You can’t be sure of how carefully that fruit was cared for or what is on the peels.
I took a regular peeler to my citrus, but you can get the colored skin off however you would like. I wish I had a channel knife zester (affiliate link. I have no proof that this is a good choice). There are so many uses for the zest. I, however, have not come up with enough ways yet. I’ve added the lemon zest to lemonade, before. That was great. I also want to learn how to candy them and such. My sister makes cleaners out of them. I haven’t tried that. I have dried them, but when I do dry them, they just sit there. Unused. Unloved. Wasted. I confess, this year, most of them ended up in my compost. Baby steps. Next year, I’ll try harnessing the lemony powers of goodness into something… good.
anyway, after you’ve peeled the citrus (as you can see most of mine is lemons and limes. It was salsa season. Grapefruits work amazingly, too. So much pith, it only takes a few of them. Plus they have a milder flavor. probably because you get more pith and less oil residue), juice them and use the juice for whatever you had in mind. Or bottle it. I’ve seen recipes, but I haven’t tried it. You will need some lemon juice for your pectin, so it’s nice to have lemons in the bunch, no matter what other combination you have in mind.
The more color you remove from the lemon, the better off you are. You can still see quite a bit of color on my citrus, but I’m not particularly worried about a lemon/lime taste in my jams.
After you’ve isolated the pith, throw in the pips (the seeds. They have tons of pectin, too). and add everything to a food processor. Chop, chop, chop.
When you’re done, you’ll end up with something that looks like this:
Now you have the base for your citrus pectin.
Measure out your pith into 8 ounce batches. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and let it sit at room temperature for two hours. Then add about 2 cups of water and let it sit another hour. Transfer everything to a pot and rapidly bring it to a boil (stirring as needed). Once it boils, turn it to a simmer, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
Then send it through a jelly bag or a few layers of cheese cloth (sorry, I lost my picture of this part of the process). If you squeeze the bag you will definitely get more pectin out of it (and I often find that it’s the pectin that will congeal the best), but your jellies will be cloudy. I don’t know why people care, but some do.
Test your pectin. To do this, I like to scoop out a spoonful and chill it in the fridge, so it cools faster than the rest of my pectin. Sources say you can’t test it when it’s warm (though I have gotten citrus pectin to set up even when warm. Never apple pectin, though), and then add a splash (my grandma’s terms) of rubbing alcohol over it. If it sets into a semi-solid blob that you can get onto a fork, you’re set. If not, reduce it down a little bit more (I’ve never had to do that with citrus, but I have had to do it with the apple pectin. Now you know why I prefer citrus pectin).
Either bottle (which I’ve never done) or freeze your pectin. To freeze, measure into an ice cube tray. I know that each of my cubes will be about 1 1/2 Tbs. When solid, remove from trays and add to a freezer bag (they’re still kind of sticky when frozen. That’s not a bad thing. That’s pectin that works). It should store for 6 months to a year.
My sources tell me that to bottle it, re-heat the pectin until just below a boil, fill sterilized jars with 1/2″ headspace, and then process for 15 minutes, depending on your altitude. I haven’t tried it. It seems a waste of cooking time to bottle pectin.
Here’s where it gets tricky. With a box of pectin, it tells you exactly how much sugar to use, how much fruit to use, and how much pectin to add. With homemade pectin, it’s all a bunch of variables. Your pectin is different based on each individual fruit. I would definitely use a box pectin a few times until you know what you’re looking for (although, really, sometimes they vary, too. I’ve got some syrup downstairs in my fruit room that was supposed to be jelly. I also have some really soft-set jams. Both from store-bought pectin).
The most important bit is to add the pectin before you boil your fruit (I think store-bought pectin is added after). You’re going to need a whole lot more pectin than you add from a box, too. A good place to start is 3 tablespoons (for me, that’s 2 pectin cubes) per cup of fruit. You may still need to add some fresh lemon juice as you’re making pectin, but with this recipe, you get a head start because it’s already in the pectin. You could need up to a whole cup of pectin. You will need to keep track of how much pectin to add because a good rule of thumb is equal parts pectin and sugar (more sugar, to taste). It all depends on how hard of a set you have. To test your fruit to desired thickness, freeze a plate in advance, and when you’re ready to test your jam/jelly, take a spoonful and drop it onto the plate. You need to be able to run something through it and it takes a while to re-fill the space. This is a soft set. If you want a really firm jelly, you will want to let it set on the plate, and then touch it. If it wrinkles, it’s good. I’m impatient. I don’t want to wait for it to cool, because then the jelly in the pan is cooked much beyond the jelly I tested on the plate, so I usually keep track of how thick it is and how long it takes to lose its shape.
If all of this is just too much work for you, you can just throw a few pips, or a mixture of chopped pith and pips into a cheesecloth pouch and add it to your boiling jams/jellies. I like something I wont have to fish out, though. And I like to adjust the amounts as needed. both are harder with throwing in a bag. You get much less control.
Recipe Type: canning
Author: Keira @ Searchforseven.com
Serves: 1 batch
Making pectin from citrus peels. Easy Peasy.
8 ounces chopped pith/pits from citrus fruit
1/4 c lemon juice
2 cups water, any temperature
Measure out your pith into 8 ounce batches.
Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and let it sit at room temperature for two hours.
Add 2 cups of water and let it sit another hour.
Transfer everything to a pot and rapidly bring it to a boil (stirring as needed). Once it boils, turn it to a simmer, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove it from the heat and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
Send it through a jelly bag or a few layers of cheese cloth
[warning]This is a fertility post. Possible triggers (though I don’t really think there are that many. I think you’ll be more excited by the outcome, but there is some sad things. There’s also much more that you might identify with than be triggered by). ALSO, there is semi-grownup content in this post. Nothing graphic (I’m not that kind of person), but if you’re too young to be talking about fertility, skip to the next article.[/warning]
It’s been a while. I don’t apologize for my absence. I needed it. We had another miscarriage and I just needed more time to heal. Didn’t want to write about it. Didn’t want to write anything else that wasn’t about it. Didn’t want to sit down at a computer. When you sit down at a computer, somehow you inevitably end up on Facebook with everyone announcing babies (seriously, is it just me or is the only thing Facebook is good for anymore is baby/wedding announcements made easy (and inappropriately so)). That and the occasional forwarded status that you’ve already seen 20 times and didn’t care the first time. I do get on Facebook to check information on corn allergies, and to learn more info from Norwex consultants, but otherwise, it only brings heartache. At least I’ve tweaked my Pinterest feed. When I see baby stuff now, it’s usually from a kindred spirit who posts infertility articles. Don’t know her, personally, but wish I did. I’d hug her and we could cry together and be mad as the fires Down South together.
The problem with reporting a loss is that everyone tries to send sympathy. But what I really want (at least after as many as I’ve had) is to just pick up the pieces and move on. I am done with hurting. It’s better to just let it go and look forward. But people try to help by bringing it up. Maybe to some it’s helpful, but to me, just let it go. Don’t make me keep having to live there. I’m not saying that you should pretend it never happened, but help me look forward instead. My ward was perfect about it! I’ve never felt so loved when I needed them and left to heal when I needed a break. They called and checked on me, they came and visited about everything and anything. They let me pick up the pieces when I was ready to move on. I’ve been so blessed to remember what a good ward is like. In all of those visits, I learned of a doctor that many of the women I associate with have turned to because they, like I, felt like all the other doctors in the area just ignored their pleas. In my opinion, the doctors in the area have enough healthy and easy babies to deliver, so they’re not so concerned for the woman who can’t have them, the woman who loses them, or any woman who has some other female-related problem. It is interesting to me that all these women gave the same doctor name! You would think that there would be options, choices. Apparently, there is not. Not if you actually want to be heard, anyway.
I met with the PA at the new clinic (I’ve already met with her twice, actually. And I have another appt with the main doc and the PA in about a week!) and I am SOOOO happy! I had collected all of my charts (from 5 other clinics where I’ve tried to be heard and wasn’t), all of my data and test results and on and on. We’re talking well over 300 papers. She went through all of them. Of that entire stack, she pulled out 2. She scanned the entire stack in, but felt that only 2 papers were relevant to actually have physical copies in my chart. Out of YEARS of paperwork, she only kept hard copies of 2! I think one was the most recent semen analysis and one was an x-ray of what my uterus looks like. Both give little to go off of, so maybe they’re just there to check off her list. (interesting note about my uterus, though: it’s crooked. It explains so much! Why my only child tried to make her own hole through my hip during birth, being the easiest to tell you. No one seems concerned, though, so it must not be a big deal.
After explaining a few things and answering a few of her questions, and after she looked through my charts, she looked me in the eye and as frankly as can be (I love people who tell it like it is! I’m so excited! Seriously. You wanna be my friend, talk truths to my ear. Don’t sugar coat it) she says, “Keira, you are an enigma. Your charts are all over the place. No one started from the beginning, and no one finished testing anything. We’re going to have to start from square one.” To me, she seemed to be saying that instead of any orchard masters going and picking an entire branch from a tree and moving to the next branch, they’d pick an apple here and an apple there. None of these doctors was in enough of a hurry or had enough forethought that they cleared the whole branch of apples to know that there was nothing wrong in that sector.
She was ticked that no one believed me about the Rh factor (I’m A-. In childbirth, especially in miscarriages, that’s a big deal. But all the docs just told me to stay home during my miscarriages. They argued that there wasn’t high enough HCG levels to warrant a RhoGam shot. Even when I did have high enough HCG levels, they still just told me to take it easy and my body would take care of itself). She was disgusted that no one had followed through on the blood-attacking-itself bit but just prescribing me aspirin and letting it go. She also was ticked that in “trying to find what was wrong with me,” they failed to keep up on the basic tests. Like yearly exams. I know I could have said something and pushed the issues, but I spent so much time (and money) there anyway, I wasn’t in a rush. Before I left her office, I’d had 13 vials of blood drawn and 2 more appointments scheduled.
The only problem was that one of those tests (the one that took 8 whole vials of blood) cost $3000! When I mentioned that I’d have insurance starting on the first of January, but that I would have to pay full price at the time, they said “Oh man! Well there’ll be such a difference in price, we’ll just throw away what we collected today and we’ll just recollect at your next appointment.” What a loss! Is it silly that I almost would have rathered paying the $4000 (total) than throw away a piece of me? Anyway, because they’d just have to do the same draws in 2 weeks, they put me on a strict steak and iron pills diet. When I came back in to get my blood drawn again, the PA had decided to do another test, so there were even more vials this time (didn’t count. Kept my eyes focused on a little square sticker residue on the phlebotomy chair. The same person drew my blood each time, but the first time I hardly felt a thing, and the second time, she kept digging into my veins with each change of vials. I also took a much harder hit this time. I had to stop and take a break and grab a burrito before I could even think straight. I scarfed the entire thing down and then did NOT feel good! But I only knew I needed to eat! I probably shouldn’t have driven to the taco place. Anyway, the big test, the one that the PA is most anxious for, takes 2 weeks to get back to them, so I don’t expect to hear from them very soon. They said they’d call for all my other labs when they came in, but really it’s not going to make too much sense until all the labs are back together.
Before I left the office after my first visit, I asked the PA if she thought it would be possible to get pregnant right away (SOOO sick of waiting), and she said “For all we know, yes! You could just be extremely deficient in Folic Acid. I’ve seen that happen.” Part of me knows I’ll be pretty ticked if all of this waiting has been because of something silly like a vitamin deficiency. But the other half of me would love for the solution to be that easy (although a folic acid would be less easy than it sounds, since I’ve been taking folic acid supplements for YEARS. It would have to be more of an absorption issue).
At my appt in a few weeks, I intend to talk to them about why I feel so much better on Clomid. I’ve taken a few cycles off now and I’m back to feeling instant rage. When I called my old clinic about it, they said, well it means you weren’t ovulating (in a no-duh way) and I didn’t bother mentioning that I’ve had positive ovulation charts and bloodwork the entire time. I asked what I could do when I wasn’t taking Clomid. She said, “Well, there aren’t very many options. You could take anti-depressants [I didn’t say I was depressed, lady. I said that I wasn’t angry. That clearly says there’s something wrong hormonally and an anti-depressant is like a silly bandaid when what I have is a cold. Honestly! We won’t even get me started on the whole medication overload issue. There is a time and a place. This isn’t one of them], or you could just wait. Because anything else is going to counteract your efforts to conceive. You can’t take Clomid for more than a few cycles.” Somehow that answer only caused anger (couldn’t tell, right?). I don’t think she heard anything I was saying. She didn’t listen, didn’t try to understand, and only showed her ignorance on the issue. The real question is WHY does Clomid fix something? And WHAT does it fix? If I’m ovulating anyway, why is Clomid fixing anything? I have a feeling my question will go completely different with this new doctor. And I can’t wait to get started.