Fruit leather

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Fruit leather is an easy way to use up leftover fruit and to preserve a sweet bit of summer! You can use almost any fruit, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. I like to make fruit leather in the summer when the berries are plentiful, and then stash it away for the winter, when we’re all missing those beautiful fresh local berries!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of pureed fruit(s), such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, or pears
  • 1/4 cup sugar, agave, or honey
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to preserve flavor and color

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Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 175* (or the lowest temp you can set your oven to). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (Wax paper would probably work too.)
  2. Puree the fruit and optionally strain the seeds out. Place pureed fruit in a small pot with sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Bring fruit to a boil over medium heat, then let it simmer for about 5 mins., and turn it off.
  4. Pour fruit onto parchment paper and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly across the pan.
  5. Place pan in oven for at least 90 mins. It’s done when you can touch it and it doesn’t leave wet marks on your fingers. If your pan is small or you use an ample measure of fruit, it can take several hours to dry. Don’t worry; it will eventually dry out. And even if you accidentally let it go too long, it will still make a tasty fruit chip!
  6. Remove pan from oven and cool. When it’s cool, trim away excess paper. Then cut into squares or strips, leaving the paper backing in place to keep the fruit pieces from sticking to one another. Store in a ziplock bag in your pantry or cupboard.
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Raspberry fruit leather

 

 

Pear Butter

My daughter refers to my pear butter as “Beau bear cheek butter,” because it’s as silky smooth and delicious as her baby cousin’s cheeks! But you don’t have to just take our word for it — pear butter is easy to make at home on your own! Since it cooks down quite a bit, I recommend making a batch when you have at least 4 pounds of pears, but you could easily cook more. I also enjoy spicing it up quite a bit, with vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc., but you can use as much or as little of these as you like, or have on hand.

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Ingredients:

(makes about 5 half-pint jars)

  • 4 – 5 pounds of ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered (this produced 7 cups puree)
  • lemon juice to prevent the cut fruit from browning (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 1/2 cups of brown sugar*
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

* Note: White sugar works fine too, or you can do a mix of brown and white sugars. I recommend starting with the smaller quantity of sugar and then adding it by the 1/2 cup as needed.

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Steps:

  1. Place pears in a large pot with optional lemon juice, and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 45 mins. to an 1 hr.
  2. When pears are soft but before they break apart, strain pears and puree in blender or food processor. Pour out the cooking water. Return puree to pot. (Although I started with the pear pieces in a crockpot, I ended up transferring the puree to a big dutch oven on the stovetop, which reduced the liquid a lot faster.)
  3. Add spices and sugar to puree and stir. Heat to a low bubbling simmer and stir occasionally until mixture thickens. This will take about an hour, but depends on the surface area of your pot, and level of heat. The butter will be smooth, and drip slowly from a spoon when it’s done.
  4. While pear butter is cooking, prep your canning jars, lids, and rings according to manufacturer’s instructions. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.
  5. When the pear butter is done cooking, pour into jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars and lower into the pot of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the lids and boil jars for about 5 mins. Remove from the water and let cool on a rack.

 

Raspberry Crumble Muffins

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I’ve described these muffins before as part recipe and part invention, but totally delicious — which is all accurate! These are buttery, soft, a bit crumbly, and definitely fruity, thanks to a generous amount of raspberries. Frozen raspberries actually work best, since they don’t turn into mush when you fold them into the batter. They are definitely best enjoyed the day they’re baked, (the crumb topping wants to go soft during storage), but we often slice and toast them lightly on subsequent days and they’re still quite good. (Yield ~ 10 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed flours*
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 sugar (white or brown or a mix)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of melted butter
  • 2/3 cup of buttermilk (regular milk is ok, but buttermilk makes a moister cake)
  • 1 1/4 cups raspberries (preferably frozen)
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour; or a mix of ap flour, almond meal, or oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

*I like to mix all purpose flour with whole wheat, almond meal, ground flax seed, and/or millet or spelt flour. You can use whatever you have on hand. I often start with 1/3 – 1/2 ap flour, and then add the others to reach the total amount needed. I find using some ap flour helps create a tender light crumb.

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Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease or place liners in muffin pan.
  2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, including the sugar.
  3. Melt butter (for both the batter and the topping) in a small pan or your microwave.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg, buttermilk, and 1/4 cup of melted butterĀ and mix just until combined.
  5. Gently fold frozen raspberries into batter, and then spoon batter into muffin cups until they’re nearly full.
  6. To make the topping, combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl, and then add the melted butter with a fork until it forms a crumbly mixture. Distribute the topping among the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 25 mins. or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Let pan cool on a rack for at least 5 – 10 mins. and then remove muffins and serve.

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