Posted 24th May 2013
Take a peek at the sublime Hedgerow Cookbook by Wild at Heart and feel inspired to cook up a foraged feast this summer...
Crab Apple Leather
Drying is one of the most ancient methods of preserving fruit, dating back over 3000 years. Fruit leathers are intensely fruity and, compared with many 'fruity' snacks that you can buy, they are also incredibly wholesome. So you can feel very virtuous when you tuck a roll into your kids' lunchboxes.
We have to admit that we were initially sceptical, possibly finding the ‘leather' word a little off-putting. However Caro's kids' reaction on first tasting them was emphatic and as they are easy and, dare we say it, foolproof to make, our resistance has melted! Fruit leathers have a myriad of uses: snip some over your muesli or porridge or add small pieces to fairy cakes in place of chocolate chips or raisins.
Makes 24 rolls of fruit leather
1 kg/2¼ lb crab apples, washed and roughly chopped
Honey or granulated sugar to taste
1 Preheat the oven to its lowest setting, no more than 100°C/210°F (not fan if possible, as the noise will drive you crazy after 12 hours or so!). Line two baking sheets (approximately 22 x 33 cm/8½ x 13 inches) with baking parchment or a non-stick liner.
2 Put the crab apples in a pan with 4 tablespoons water and cook gently until the apples are very soft and mushy. Push the mixture through a food mill on a fine setting; if you don't have a food mill you'll have to rub the mixture through a sieve - very hard work. Taste the purée and add honey or sugar to taste. If using sugar, you'll need to heat gently once the desired sweetness has been achieved,
to dissolve the sugar.
3 Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets, smoothing evenly. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 12 hours, until the leather is completely dry, even at the centre. The first time you make the leather it is worth making them during a day when you can check on them every couple of hours or so because ovens can vary quite considerably. Once you know the right temperature setting, you should be able to cook up a batch overnight while you sleep.
4 Once cool, peel the leather off the parchment or non-stick liner and place onto a fresh piece of parchment, and then roll up the leather (and parchment) tightly. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 months and snip off coils as needed.
Replace half of the apples with 500 g/1 lb 2 oz blackberries, or experiment with other fruit such as damsons.
A very pretty pud for when the sun's shining. You can make the bramble purée when the blackberries are plentiful (to the end of stage 1) and stick it in the freezer. Then it is the work of moments to turn the purée into a beautiful pudding at any time of the year.
400 g/14 oz blackberries
125 g/4½ oz/½ cups granulated sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
300 ml/10 fl oz/1¼ cups double (heavy) cream
few drops of vanilla extract
250 g/9 oz/1 cup Greek yogurt - 0% fat is fine
1 Pick out 12 pretty blackberries and set aside. Put the remaining blackberries in a saucepan with the sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Slowly bring to the boil over a low heat, until they are juicy. Push the mixture through a fine sieve or a food mill to remove the seeds. Add the lemon juice and leave to cool completely.
2 Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Fold in the yogurt and two-thirds of the purée, until just combined. Spoon the mixture into glasses and drizzle over the remaining blackberry purée. Decorate with the reserved berries and serve straightaway.