Marnely Rodriguez with a fantastic snack that will help keep us sane and not reaching for that third bottle of sugary soda.
By Marnely Rodriguez
Simplicity is an art most of us take for granted. We strive to create elaborate menus, detailed courses and spend endless hours shopping for a thousand and one ingredients. Those become sublime meals that will stay in our hearts forever, be it the great food or the nerve-wrecking you went through to create the event.
But throughout the day, we all crave simple, one ingredient snacks that will entertain our mandibles and at the same time, are great sources of nutrients and energy. Snacks that will keep us sane and not reaching for that third bottle of sugary soda!
Meet Mango Fruit Leathers. Remember when you were a kid and you’d eat those endless rolls of “fruit” paper? Brightly colored and with more sugar than pure sugar cane, they’d keep you happy for a good 30 minutes while your parents shopped. They were nothing but a toy! These Mango Fruit Leathers are inspired by them, with much less ingredients, sugar and coloring. They’re not perfect, nor should they be! Remember, we’re keeping it simple?
To make this, you need your favorite fruit; second favorite fruit works as well. Is it fresh, organic? Is it in season right now? Make sure you’ve answered yes to the above questions before continuing. Now wash, peel, chop and puree in a blender. The amount is of course relative to how much you want to make.
Start with 2 cups of chopped fruit and puree. Some recipes may suggest adding sugar to your puree, but don’t. What we want is to showcase the natural flavors of the fruit, so why would you add sugar? Some flavorings you might want to add though are lime or lemon juice/zest, to balance out sweetness.
On a sheet tray lined with a silicone pad (Silpat works well) spread the puree thinly using an offset spatula. If you’d like to make this look pretty, place small herb leaves or edible flower petals on the surface, softly pressing down. Think of pairings that would go well, such as Strawberry puree and Basil strips; Pineapple puree and Rosemary leaves; or leave as is. Now choose any of the following options:
- If you have an electric oven, you could dry these at around 140F, for as long as they take to completely dry and are smooth to the touch;
- If you own a gas oven (which I do), the fact that the oven pilot is on at all times keeps the inside of the oven warm. Leave your tray in the warm oven overnight or a day and a half to dry completely;
- Have a dehydrator? Use it to make this fruit leather! Perfect appliance for this if you own it.
When completely dried, peel off of silicone sheet and cut with kitchen shears into strips, squares or even hearts if you’d like! Cut out squares of wax paper as well and place each fruit leather on one. You can stack them and save them in an airtight container or you can roll them up and tie for an on-the-go snack.
A great way to use ripe fruit, when you’ve become tired of jamming or canning! Give it a try and share with us your favorite fruit and herb combinations!
Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the author of the food blog Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she has worked as an Overnight Bread Baker in Colorado, a Chocolate Maker in Virginia as well as a Pastry Cook on the whimsical island of Martha’s Vineyard, just to name a few. She currently resides on Martha's Vineyard with her chef-husband, where they are both on an endless search for Caribbean flavors, new culinary trends and gastronomic inspiration.