Posted by: Rachel | September 11, 2011

leather and lace

I’m still using my car as a dehydrator. It works so very well that it is just a shame to do otherwise, as we are having nothing but (awfully hot) sun sun sun!

I’ve sun-dried several pints of cherry and grape tomatoes on my dashboard, and yesterday I made fruit leather. It isn’t the most beautiful thing, but it sure is good, and it makes a great lunch box treat or portable snack. I used peaches, but I think any stone fruit would work nicely, and I hope you’ll experiment with combinations on your own.

I moved my “cooking area” from the dashboard (too slanted) to the shelf over the trunk of my hatchback (nice and flat). That’s the only thing I changed as far as the car goes. All you need is a sunny day, a blender, some ripe fruit… overall its pretty easy!

The end product, after only one day in the car, is chewy, soft but not sticky, flexible but not fragile, and not overly leathery.

One caveat, though, you really do need parchment paper. I tried a test with wax paper and it was an abysmal failure. The paper completely melded with the fruit leather. I don’t think that using plastic wrap in that heat would be a good idea either, and I’m pretty sure that foil would stick like the wax paper did. But parchment paper does the trick.

Here’s what I did:

One (or Two) Day Fruit Leather

in the blender

its a whiz...

3 lb ripe peaches
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
a handful of fresh lemon basil leaves
1 tsp cinnamon or ras al hanout
pinch of salt
2 T sugar (or to taste)

ready to "bake"

wet and wild


almost ready

flipped!


packaged up for storage

lacey yumminess

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until completely puréed. Pour the purée onto parchment paper housed on cookie sheets and spread it out to about 1/4 inch or less of thickness. Thinner is better than thicker – it will dry more quickly. You should be almost able to see the parchment through the purée. Place the cookie sheets in the car in full sun. Barely crack one window for ventilation. Check for “doneness” after 8 sun-filled hours.
***

I peeled mine off the parchment, flipped it over and gave it about an hour more in the sun on the second side. The final product is translucent, slightly lacy, a bit brownish (blueberries), chewy, flexible, and should keep a month or more in the fridge (no way will it last that long around here!).

I’m thinking that this counts as a “raw” food as it is dehydrated but not actually cooked. If I’m misunderstanding the concept I hope someone out there will correct me!

There are more traditional ways of drying fruit leathers, and I am not recommending that you use your car as a dehydrator. It works for me, though, and now my car smells like peach pie! Mmmm… delicious!!

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Responses

  1. It was cool all last week. Now it’s getting hot again. I bet our dashboards could do this.

  2. What a wonderful idea! I remember eating apricot fruit leather in Turkey when I was young and I loved it. I wonder if there’s still enough strength in the sun here for this……? Hope you’re OK – I’ve heard about the fires.

    • Thanks for the good wishes. I’m fine and fortunately my friends in Bastrop got smoked out but not burned down – the fires stopped just short of their place (by less than 1 km – whew) and the animals and all are OK. Very scary, though, and no rain in sight… so we’re still on alert here. Hard to cook with one’s finger’s crossed!

  3. There is no hope of using my car as a cooking vessel unless maybe I turned on the heater. It was 39 this morning and got to about 65 today. With everyone having such terrible heat, I think I will take the fall like temperature and use conventional cooking methods. I do love the post…you get “A” for originality.

    • Delicious as your weather sounds do you suppose we could have some sort of happy medium? Less rain up your way and a bit (even a small bit) down here? Please?? What a summer!

      Thanks for the “A”! First I’ve had in many a year… (grin)

  4. that… is one of the most brilliant ideas i’ve ever heard of. i’ve always been tempted to buy a dehydrator, but the cost and SEVERE lack of counter space deterred me. i should have been doing this all summer!

    • It isn’t too late! They’re promising us, what, 103 tomorrow I think? And, really its about the sun not the heat… Makes for a toasty car but it works! Be sure to let us know if you try it, OK?

  5. Great idea for making use of all those “solar ovens” in the parking lots!

    • Now if there was just some way to run my house from the potential electricity… solar panels on my car perhaps? Hmmm… (and mmmmm!)

  6. Helo Rachel,

    What a splendid idea to use the car as dehydrator. But I think that by the standards of raw food the temperatures( 40 / 50 degrees centigrade) are too high in the car,but who cares?
    Next week I go to Spain and will certainly use the car as dehydrator.

    Ton van der Molen
    The Netherlands

    • Ah, that is helpful! I wasn’t sure… yes I’m certain it got to around 45C (at least) in the car! Enjoy Spain, safe travels and be sure to come visit *us* again – dank u!

  7. How very clever and original! Must give tihs a go as it´s still hot here. Thought of you today as we drove home through Spain from our holiday and I spotted lots of stork nests (empty though) managed to take a snap, so if it came out ok will send it to you!


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