The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,130 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,150 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …
For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Make It Fruity Expert Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I made sure I was fully recovered from my blackberry-bush war wounds, and Piper and I set about earning the last and final badge in our pursuit of all things fruity.
First off, I had to bring Pipe down a notch: Turns out, becoming an “expert” in something went straight to her tiara-topped head. She got so big for her britches she nearly didn’t fit in the kitchen. But she came ‘round and her eyes got big when I told her we’d be making fruit leather.
“Aunty!” she squealed so hard her tiara toppled off. “I have always, always, ALWAYS wanted fruit leather to pack in my lunches, but Mom never buys them for me!”
She danced a little jig while I got out the ingredients. “Mom is very sensible,” I said. “That stuff is loaded with sugar like you wouldn’t believe. THIS stuff that we’re going to make? It’s gonna be the bomb dizzle.”
Piper was so happy she even let my attempt at modern slang go by with nary an eye roll.
It was a sticky process, with lots of trial and error (i.e. tasting and nibbling), but we came up with some fruit leather recipes we think you and your lunch box crowd will go gaga over.
Jane and Piper’s Bomb Dizzle Fruit Leathers:
Start with four cups of your favorite fruit and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Blend. This will make approximately one baking sheet of fruit leather. Combinations you might try if you follow our lead:
Cinnamon Apple: start with your favorite homemade applesauce recipe, using plenty of cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon for tartness. Spread applesauce in a parchment lined baking sheet as thinly as possible. Bake in a low heat oven (mine doesn’t go any lower than 140 degrees, so about there works fine, but you could go up to about 170 degrees) for about 6 hours or so. When it isn’t so sticky or soggy any longer, you’ll know it’s ready. Leave out overnight to make it even chewier and easier to handle. Then, roll up (including the parchment) in a tight roll. Cut into sections with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. Tie your little rolls with a piece of twine if they start to come unraveled. Yum!
Mango and Pineapple: 4 cups cubed mango and pineapple with ½ cup water in saucepan. Cook down, then blend in blender or food processor. Follow instructions above.
Brown Sugar Peach: add brown sugar to taste in 4 cups diced peaches. Blend. Repeat steps above.
Watermelon: no need to cook down first, but you will likely want to press through a cheesecloth, since watermelon is so well, watery. Add 1/4 cup sugar if needed and blend. Cook as directed above, and roll.
What kind of flavor combos can you come up with? Peach Raspberry? Blueberry Vanilla? Cherry Coconut? Kiwi Lemonade? Lime Cherry? Ginger Pear?
What about sneaking in some veggies when the kiddos aren’t looking? Carrot Nectarine, anyone? Beet Strawberry? Cucumber Mint? I think I may be onto something …
Inquiring minds want to know your brilliant ideas … and so does my lunch box. Er, I meant, Piper’s. Yes, Piper’s.