All around our small neighborhood where right of ways have been cleared, stumps and tree limbs were piled to decompose. It is in these piles that Bristly Black Currants (Ribes lacustre) are growing rampant. My mission this coming Fall is to try to successfully transplant some more of these bushes into our yard before the lots are developed for sale.
Prior to then I will try to pick the bushes clean and preserve this tangy, sweet, juicy, and slightly bitter berry in all manners possible.
This spring I purchased a new dehydrator to make salmon jerky but it seems to have endless uses, including this, my first foray into fruit leather making. The inspiration for these leathers came from an informational PDF on currants put out by the Univeristy of Alaska’s Cooperative Extension. It may seem an antiquated resource with all the blogs, journals, cookbooks, and the like out there, but most of my canning and preparation of Alaska’s wild foods begins with the Cooperative Extension.
Bristly Black Currant Fruit Leather
4 cups of berries makes 1 standard bakers half sheet of fruit leather
4 cups bristly black currants
1/4 cup raw honey
In a blender or food processor grind the berries until well puréed. This will reduce their volume by roughly half.
**If you choose to, you can now strain your purée through a sieve to eliminate the seeds which can impart a bitter taste and rough texture to the leather (neither of which has impeded the devouring of these in our house). I chose not to strain mostly because the berry’s fiber is in the seeds and the majority of a fruit’s nutrients lie in the peel. Bristly black currants are a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
Once puréed sufficiently, blend in 1/4 cup raw honey for every 2 cups of berry purée (4 cups whole berries). Pour purée out onto a standard cookie sheet size of parchment paper and smooth to an even thickness of 1/8 ~ 1/4 inch. An even thickness is imperative to even dehydrating.
To dehydrate, place parchment sheets into a dehydrator or an oven set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, if using an oven place parchment onto cookie sheets and keep the door cracked to allow for humidity to escape. Dry for an estimated 6 hours or until the leather is dry to the touch and peels easily off the parchment. The fruit leather can be stored on parchment or wax paper in a roll-up form which allows for easy snack handouts. Use an airtight container for storage up to a month on the shelf and a year in the freezer.
An added bonus to using parchment paper for drying is, after the fruit leather is removed, the paper is stained so gloriously and has a wonderfully sweet scent. I saved it all for gift wrapping or other future craft use!
(Not: this recipe can be used in the same quantities for most any berry or fruit you have on hand. My future fruit leather daydreams include making a Beet and Huckleberry blend, adding chia seeds, and other power packed ingredients for light snacks on the trail.)