Peacher Leather. Hmm, doesn’t really sound appetizing but recipes with odd titles always intrigue me.
Peach Leather: Stew as many peaches as you choose, allowing a quarter of a pound of sugar to one of fruit; mash it up smooth as it cooks, and when it is dry enough to spread in a thin sheet on a board greased with butter, set it out in the sun to dry; when dry it can be rolled up like leather, wrapped up in a cloth, and will keep perfectly from season to season. School-children regard it as a delightful addition to their lunch of biscuit or cold bread. 1887, The White House Cookbook
After a quick read I realized this is basically antique fruit roll ups. And what child wouldn’t appreciate flat, cling wrap style fruit if their typical lunch was a biscuit or cold bread? Sheez. I stress out every morning preparing lunches, trying to decide if the sevenager would prefer cheese wrapped in prosciutto ham or salmon tidbits with ginger sesame sauce. Times have surely changed.
OK, OK. I have never sent her to school with either prosciutto ham nor salmon tidbits. Just trying to make a point (she has taken pound cake with chopped strawberries before, but I try to keep lunches healthy but, you know, low glow – I avoid things that will particularly stand out and annoy other moms – I don’t want the rep as being the uppity lunch mother).
Back to peach leather. Commercial boxed fruit roll ups scare me. What exactly do they put in those things that make them last, for like, forever? This old recipe is pretty simple with minimal ingredients. Sure, it has sugar but I can improve that by swapping in honey.
Here’s how it worked out…
- Gather peaches. Scripps Farmer’s Market had loads of gorgeous peaches. Perhaps I overdid it. (That’s silly, that would NEVER happen).
- Remove skin, pit, stems and any wonky spots (soft, brown, you know what I mean). You just want the pretty insides. Put the good stuff in a pot. I chose to start with only four peaches. Not sure how this would turn out, I wanted to limit my exposure to failure.
- The recipe calls for sugar, LOTS of it (a quarter of a pound of sugar per peach, yikes!). Instead, I used 2 cups of honey. Also add 2 tablespoons of water – take it easy on the agua. Whatever water you add, you must work to get it back out. You only want enough to assist the peaches with breaking down. Stew at “barely there” boiling. As the peaches break down, mash ’em. There is something quite rewarding about pulverizing peaches. I started with my bean masher but eventually went to my hand mixer.
- Once everything is mixed up and mashed well, spread the resulting peach goo on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The recipe calls for using a buttered board. I was trying to save myself the work of scrubbing my sheet pan AND I knew I could roll them peaches in the parchment paper once it was ready.
- Set out to dry overnight. It was kinda freaking me out that there might be a wayward fly in the house so I placed a second baking sheet on top. That kind of cooking phobia keeps me up at night.
The next morning, I was looking forward to sending the treat to school with the girls. BUT my concoction was still gooey. Grrr. I slid the pan in the oven and baked on the lowest temperature (170 degrees F) for another 4 hours. Still a touch of goo but after letting it sit out one more night, the peach/honey sheets had dehydrated enough to be called “done”. “Done” means these sheets look, and perform, like decorative window clings.
Good news is that they passed the taste test with a solid A+! They were peachy honey sweet! Maybe a little too honey sweet. Next time, I’ll cut back on the honey by 1/2 a cup.
While the peach leather would have been fine to leave in the parchment, it seemed fun to follow the suggestion in the cook book, so I rummaged out some cheese cloth, cut it to fit, and finished off tying the rolls together with embroidery thread. These would be such cute gifts wrapped in cloth and fit inside a glass jar. If anyone does that, please share a picture!
These should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. I haven’t tested how long they will last. We ate ours within a few days. I’m sure adding minced cinnamon or cloves would be yummy. The recipe is below:
- 4 peaches
- 2 cups honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pit peaches and remove skin, brown spots and stems.
- Cut into pieces.
- Put in stewing pot with honey and water
- Stew at a low boil until peaches have completely broken down.
- Blend mixture with hand mixer until the consistency of jelly.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Spread mixture on parchment paper until it is very flat.
- Cover with a second baking sheet and let it sit overnight.
- When ready, it should stay together as a sheet when it is pulled off the parchment paper. If it doesn't, you can continue to let it sit out, or place it in the oven at the lowest oven temperature, until the peach leather is fully dehydrated.
- Tear into pieces (about 3 inches by 5 inches).
- Roll in parchment paper or cheesecloth and tie with thread or ribbon.
- Will stay fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.