Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dehydrating and Freezing Blackberries - Fruit Leather

The local food bank had an overage of black berries a few weeks ago. They called and asked if I could distribute some of them. I spent several days delivering them to lots of friends and neighbors. I didn't want to see them go to the goat guy. 

I tried to dehydrate some and they were on the dehydrator for several days and were very hard and didn't have much flavor. 

I thought I could perhaps grind the dehydrated berries into a flour. 

However, I figured I could get them to dehydrate more quickly in a fruit leather.
On the first try, I just blended the berries down in the blender and put them on the fruit leather trays. 

They were a bit bitter as I didn't add anything to sweeten them.

On the second tray, I blended them down with a few apples and that added just the right amount of sweetness. 
I found that if I let the blended mix sit for a few minutes that many of the little seeds would sink to the bottom of the blender so that when I pour the pulp onto the silicone trays there were less seeds in the mix.
Before pouring the berries in, I forgot to mention that I washed and sorted the berries taking out any that didn't look good so that only the best berries went into the blender. 

I poured the trays with different thicknesses to see which was best. I think that pouring the tray a little thicker gave it a better leather.

It took about a day to dry the leather verses several for the berries whole and they tasted much better and I could still blend it into flour if I wanted but I actually enjoy it as a leather so that is how I will eat it.

Getting the leather off the tray was a bit hard when I tried to just pull it off using my hand. I found a better way was to use a butter knife and just slide the knife under the leather at one end and slide it back and forth loosening the leather much more quickly. 
If I had to purchase berries to make this, I don't think it would be cost effective or that the flavor would be worth the cost.

I just had lots of berries and little freezer space so I used them to make this more as an experiment.  
If I could have figured a way to get the little seeds out completely, I think it would have been better. I don't mind the seeds as they taste similar to Chia seeds and I don't mind that but Grand Princess number One likes the flavor but doesn't like the seeds so that is another draw back with the berries as a fruit leather. 
I still have a few apples from our tree last fall in the crisper and am thinking of trying some apple fruit leather to see how Grand Princess number One would like fruit leather without the seeds that were in the berry leather. 
By far, freezing the berries was the best bet. I love eating them frozen and enjoy some daily with yogurt and banana with some granola on top. The frozen berries taste fresh and are great straight from the freezer. 
Having tried it, I would rather have them frozen but the fruit leather would be good for emergency preparedness if you aren't paying for the berries.

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