Crab Apple Fruit Leather
To make fruit leathers from apples, start by making applesauce. You can use it as is or mix in other pureed fruit, such as peaches or raspberries, or spices, such as cinnamon, cloves or allspice. If your apples are too tart for your taste, add a bit of honey or maple syrup. To brighten the flavor, add a tsp or two of lemon juice.
Wash apples, and remove stem. Clean off the blossom end. Place the apples in a large pot, and add enough water to cover the bottom. Add a cinnamon stick (optional). Cover, and simmer till all the apples are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more water as needed.
When the apples are soft, remove from the heat, and remove the cinnamon stick. Process the apples through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. If you want, mix in other pureed fruits. Sweeten to taste with maple syrup or honey. Add lemon juice to taste.
There are many ways to dry fruit leathers. You can use an electric or solar dehydrator, an oven set on the lowest temperature, a wood stove, a green house or a rack above your wood stove. Your car parked in the sun on a warm day might also work. What ever method you choose, spread the applesauce on a non-stick surface. Electric dehydrators come with special trays for this, but I have also used baking sheets covered in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Although I haven’t tried it, a silicone baking mat might be the most reusable solution. Spray on some cooking oil to keep the leather from sticking when it is dry.
Spread the applesauce approximately 1/8” thick across whatever tray you are using. It can be slightly thicker around the edges since the edges dry first. The ideal temperature for drying is 140 degrees. If it is hotter than that, the fruit will cook. If your oven does not have that low a setting, open the door a crack and use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. If you are using your oven, remember to put a sign on the door warning everyone that fruit leathers are drying inside. More than once I have forgotten and turned up the oven ruining the fruit leathers in short order. Drying times will vary depending on your method. The surface of the leathers should be slightly shiny and not sticky when they are dry enough. Peel off the leathers from the trays while they are still warm. Cool completely before rolling in wax paper or plastic wrap.