Being congenitally incapable of throwing anything out, I clearly was not going to just discard perfectly good blueberries and basil simply because they had been sitting in vinegar in my garage for a month. But let’s use the term “recipe” in the loosest way possible, folks: basically, once the vinegar had fully drained from the blueberry pulp, I tossed the pulp into the food processor and starting adding things (a bit of sugar, a pinch of salt, a dollop of honey, some OJ concentrate) until it tasted good. Processed until very smooth, spread into trays in the dehydrator and the next day: blue leather. It was pure experiment; I really had no idea if it would be edible, let alone enjoyable. I figured if not, I was only wasting a few tablespoons of sugar, and, well sometimes in the name of science curiosity good food, you need to push the boundaries a little.
The result? Un.be.lievable. Who would have thought that vinegar-soaked blueberries, with basil, stems & all, would make a delicious fruit leather? Not I. But Tai can’t stop raving about the stuff and in fact, even though he is guiding a climbing camp for three teenagers all this week, has only grudingly coughed up the tiniest square of leather for them to try (the result was unanimous: delicious!) and is now busily hoarding the rest of it in the back of the fridge. I love something-from-nothing recipes (pectin from apple leavings, vinegar from too-long-opened wine, trifle from cake remnants): they appeal to the frugal Yankee in me and make me feel all Little House on the Prairie (as long as the Prairie has my food processor. And dehydrator. And electricity.). A something-from-nothing recipe that is quick, easy and yields a delcious snack? Sweet.
- blueberry/basil pulp leftover from Blueberry-Basil Vinegar
- about 1/4 cup of frozen orange juice concentrate
- about 2 tbsp honey
- about 2 tbsp sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- pinch sea salt
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Taste as you go, adjusting until the mixture tastes good to you. Process (or blend on highest speed) for 3 to 5 minutes to yield a smooth consistency (the mixture should be about the consistency of a very thin milkshake).
- Spritz two solid dehydrator trays with canola oil or baking spray (this makes removal of the fruit leather much easier), then spread the fruit mixture evenly among the two trays. Dry overnight at 135 degrees F (about 8 – 12 hours). Alternatively, spread the fruit mixture into a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet and dry in a low oven (as low as yours will go; in my oven this is 170 degrees F) for 4 to 6 hours. The leather will be a bit tacky when done (from the honey, I think?) but should easily lift from the tray/baking sheet and be able to be rolled without cracking. Slice into serving-sized pieces and either roll each piece and store in a Ziploc, or keep flat, individually wrapped in plastic wrap (or the pieces will get stuck together).
Yields about 12 servings.
- Anything goes here: I added sugar, honey and frozen OJ concentrate because they were to hand. I like frozen fruit concentrates for adding sweetness without sugar as well as for the texture, but it is not a necessity. You could experiment with other sweeteners (maple syrup, agave, rice syrup), or jazz it up with black pepper, a dash of balsamic, a tablespoon of tequila. Have fun and try something wacky – after all, it was only going in the trash (or the compost bin).
- The amounts of sweetener listed above are my best guesses: I made this over a week ago and didn’t write it down (hence, the blog: I’m horrible at keeping track of this stuff). Don’t worry if you are adding way more sweetener than I used; just keep adding until it tastes good.
- I thought, when making these, that yogurt might be an interesting addition, although I have no idea how yogurt would do in a dried product (I suspect at the least it would need refrigeration); it would have been interesting, if I had had any yogurt.
I store mine refrigerated (they stay a bit less sticky that way, especially in summer heat) but see no reason why they would not be shelf-stable at room temperature.
Summer, although there is no reason the vinegar, and leather, could not be made year round with frozen blueberries and basil.