And so I’m here just for a few moments on this Sunday night to offer you what I have, which are strawberries that I picked myself when I dropped everything and went picking on Friday. Mostly I did it with the hope that my friend, Molly, would go ahead and have her baby right there in the field. It seemed like it would make an awfully good story.
Instead we came home with our strawberries, Molly cut Sadie’s hair on the back porch, and then they gifted the hair to the birds. I made custard and whipped cream as a vehicle for strawberries, and then I made fruit roll-ups. We are still waiting for the baby. But I think we’ll go picking again next week, given the little one decides to stay in until then.
Fruit roll-ups (or leathers if that’s the way you swing) might sound like a complicated and DIY homesteader housewife kind of thing to make, but the truth is that if you have a dehydrator or an oven that goes down to a low temperature, it’s as easy as a whir in your blender and a day in the dehydrator or oven. In this time, your house will smell like strawberry pie, and you won’t have to do a thing (except of course all of the other things you have to do–it is, after all, JUNE). The dehydrator really is the unsung hero of preservation, as there is so little work involved in the drying of most fresh foods. And the result in this case are ruby red sheets of spicy sweetness that can either be rolled up in little bits of parchment, or just free form thrown into a jar for those who don’t feel like adding a step.
A few notes on dehydrators: I have this one, which I share with the aforementioned Molly, and it works well. I find that most of us who have the cheap, round, white models seem to covet the aptly named Excalibur, square, majestic, faster, and without the challenges that come up around doing anything on a tray the shape of a tire. If you really want to go for it, there are also a few pricey stainless steel models out there that do all the good work with out the slowly heating plastic leaching chemicals into your food. Someday, someday. But until then, the cheap, round, white model does the job.
Spicy Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups
makes 3 round dehydrator trays, or 2 baking sheets
2 pounds strawberries, hulled
2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon gives a nice bite, and 1/2 teaspoon gives a spicy, adults only fruit roll-up)
1. Combine the the strawberries, applesauce, honey, lemon juice, and cayenne in the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust for spice and sweetness.
2. If you’re using a dehydrator, grease the sheets (not the ones with holes) of the dehydrator. You can also line the sheets with parchment, if you prefer. If you’re using the oven, preheat it to 140 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Pour the strawberry mixture onto the trays of the dehydrator or the baking sheets, making sure that you create a very thin layer. Dehydrate at about 140 degrees until the sheets are no longer sticky. In the round models, this could take as long as 24 hours, but in the Excalibur or the oven, it can be as quick as 12 hours.
4. When the fruit roll-ups are ready, they will peel off the tray in one full sheet. Use scissors to cut into squares, and then either roll the squares in pieces of parchment, or put them straight into a jar. Either way, store in an airtight container, and eat within six weeks or so.