Monday 15 October 2012

Rose Hip Leather Recipe

We had our first frost on Friday night and now the rose hips and rowan berries are ready for picking. I went out Saturday morning and collected a big bucket of both. The rose hips are dog rose hips as the rugosa roses are well past their best.

The rowan berries I cleaned and are now in my freezer. I'll make rowan schnapps with them the next weekend. I've started cleaning the rose hips and I dusted off my recipes. I will beging by making rose hip leather, as this can be stored for the winter and used to make a whole range of recipes.

Fruit leathers are an excellent way of preserving certain fruit for later use in the year. Leathers are dissolved to make drinks in the Middle East and are also used as the basis for fruit desserts or they can be eaten as sweets (candies), making them much more versatile than you think. This recipe is for a classic version using rose hips that preserves the fruit's vitamin C content in the leather.

You can make fruit leathers from just about any fruit and this base recipe works well with blackberries, bilberries, elderberries, plums and many other fruit. You can also fruit like haws and crowberries to bulk out any other fruit.

Rose Hip Leather Recipe

2l rose hips, picked when ripe
10 tbsp honey
4 tbsp lemon juice

Pick only clean and unblemished rose hips that are very ripe (if you pick them after the first frost you will get more juice). Trim the stems and rub off the blossom ends of the haws then place in a pan with just enough cold water to barely cover the fruit. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit are soft and pulpy.

Take the pan off the heat then pour the mixture into a fine-meshed sieve (you may have to do this in batches). Press down with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice from the rose hips as possible. Turn all the left-over contents of the sieve into a new pan then add just enough water to barely cover. This ensures that all the possible fruit pulp is extracted. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes more. Pass through a sieve again then return the pulp to a pan and repeat the cooking and straining process once more. This time, discard the solids.

Pour the fruit purée into a clean pan and add the honey and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the volume has reduced down to about 500ml.

Combine the honey and lemon juice with the fruit puree. Now line a baking tray with heat-proof clingfilm [plastic wrap] (the kind you can microwave). Note that an average baking tray (about 30cm x 42cm) will hold about 500ml of purée.

Pour the reduced purée into the covered baking tray, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 140ºC. Use a wooden spoon to prop the oven door ajar (this allows the steam from the leather to escape) and cook for about 6 hours, or until the fruit leather is very dry. Note that the exact drying time will depend on the sugar levels in the fruit (the more sugar, the longer the drying time).

The leather needs to be completely dry, or it will not keep, but you also needs to ensure that it does not burn. To ensure the leather is dry simply try to pull it away from the clingfilm (plastic wrap). If it comes away easily and holds its shape then it is dry (make sure its not too dry though, as then it will crumble bit it can still be eaten as a candy).

To store, cover the fruit leather in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and roll loosely. Place in a clean, dry container and seal (I typically use a pasta jar with a bung). It will keep in the store cupboard for between 4 and 12 months or you can refrigerate and keep even longer.

This recipe is adapted from the Celtnet Rose Hip Leather recipe, part of the Celtnet Guide to Wild Food.

For all the wild food recipes on this blog, see the wild food recipes page.

Find more British recipes on the Recipes from the British Isles page of this blog.

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