Let’s get real about a couple of things. Fruit Leather is delicious.. Fruit Leathers can be made from scratch but are best made from leftover bits of fruit and juice from making pastes, jams, jellies, molasses, etc. And finally, and importantly, when you nibble on fruit leathers it is primarily fruit flavoured sugar. But then, so is jam, fruit pastes and other delicious things. Just eat in moderation.
Having said all of that, we like to make them – they are very easy to make – and eat them as special treats, gift them as presents, and feed them to guests. As I said, they are very delicious.
There are three ways to make Quince Leather, and all are wonderful. You can make it from cooked Quinces, from Quince Juice., or from other Quince products.
From Poached Quinces
This is easy to make if you are already simmering Quinces for Jam/Jelly or for a dessert, tart, etc. It is particularly good with slow, oven-cooked Quinces. Keep some of the Quinces aside for making fruit leather.
Simmer some peeled and cored quinces in just enough water to cover until very soft and falling apart, and have turned a gorgeous pink-red, at least 45 – 60 minutes. Puree the Quinces with the cooking water. If you prefer, you can drain the Quinces, keeping the liquid for other uses, and just puree the fruit.
Return the puree to a heavy saucepan and add sugar, about 0.25 cup per 2 cups of puree, and lemon juice, about a Tblspn per 2 cups of puree (or to taste). Simmer over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and then taste for sweetness and lemony tang. Adjust by adding more sugar or lemon juice if necessary. The flavours will intensify as the fruit leather dehydrates, so err on the side of caution.
Simmer the mixture until it reduces and thickens a little. This will be fairly quick if you have used only fruit, and will take longer if you pureed the fruit with the cooking liquid.
Dehydrating the Quince mixture
Spread it thinly on silpat mats or equivalent for your dehydrator, or onto parchment cut to fit your dehydrator trays. Dry for around 6 – 8 hours until firm but still soft enough to roll up. It may be a little sticky still, but not overly so. You can also dry the mixture in a low oven.
Using a scissors, cut into strips. Roll the strips and store in an airtight container.
From Quince Juice
This is easy to make if you are already making Quince Molasses. Keep some of the juice aside for the fruit leather. (If you don’t have a recipe for Quince Molasses, I will be publishing one in a couple of weeks.)
Wash your quinces and core them, but there is no need to peel. Put them through a juicer. I find about 2 cups of juice makes a large tray of fruit leather.
Now, you need to have some of the Quince pulp in with the juice, so add perhaps a third of the extruded pulp from your juicer. Put the mixture in the blender and blend so that the pulp is mixed well with the juice.
Place the juice mixture in a heavy saucepan and add sugar, about 0.25 cup per 2 cups of puree, and lemon juice, about a Tblspn per 2 cups of puree (or to taste). Simmer over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and then taste for sweetness and lemony tang. Adjust by adding more sugar or lemon juice if necessary. The flavours will intensify as the fruit leather dehydrates, so err on the side of caution.
Simmer the mixture until it reduces, turns ruby red, and thickens enough to be able to spread, without becoming too dry.
Dehydrate as described above.
When Making Quince Jelly, Quince Molasses, Quince Syrup
Each of these products requires you to cook the Quince juices with sugar until thickened or set. A quick way to make a Quince Leather (without any pulp) is to use some of your simmered and thickened liquid. Take it from your pot when it is thick enough, but not too thick, and spread on silpat mats. Dehydrate as described above.
The Quince Jelly recipe is here, and recipes for Molasses and Syrup will be published in a couple of weeks.
Adding Spices and Other Flavours to the Fruit Leather
Quinces are so accommodating of other flavours, especially spices. Try adding any of the following, or use your own imagination. Chilli, black pepper, ginger, cardamom seeds extracted from the pods, star anise, fennel, juniper berries, liquorice root. The larger spices can be simmered with the Quinces or Quince juice and then removed – if simmering with the quince juice, remove them just as it begins to thicken. Other spices can remain in the leather mixture as it dehydrates. Grate your ginger root finely – a microplane grater is excellent for this. Chop your chilli very finely, or leave it whole and remove it before dehydrating.
As the flavours intensify during dehydration, be judicious in adding the spices, especially chilli.