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I had about a cup of the rhubarb puree leftover from making rhubarb margaritas a couple of weeks ago, and I absolutely hate to throw away leftovers.  So, I decided to dry it.  You could really do this with any fruit puree – be creative!  If you don’t have a fruit dryer, this does take some time (about 5-7 hours), so plan accordingly.  I had a day of house cleaning planned this past weekend though, so I was going to be home for most of the day.  Dried fruit that you buy at the store is often VERY sweet.  Making your own lets you cut down on the sugar a bit, and make the flavor more to your liking.  This would be a great snack for the kids too instead of those scary fruit roll-ups you buy at the store!

Fruit Leather, adapted from jam it, pickle it, cure it, by Karen Solomon

1 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup of water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until rhubarb is soft, about 20 minutes.  Puree mixture into a food processor or blender.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees, or if your oven can’t get below 170 degrees, set it to its lowest temperature and lodge a wooden spoon into the door to keep it ajar.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the puree into a large rectangle of even thickness, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Place the pan in the center of the oven for 5 to 7 hours, checking after 5 hours.  The fruit should be sticky but not wet, throughout; the center is usually the last to dry.

Once sticky all over, remove the pan from the oven and gently peel the fruit from the parchment paper, releasing it from all 4 edges first, then peeling up the middle.  Flip it over, and return it to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Tear off a clean piece of parchment or waxed paper larger than the sheet of fruit leather.  Roll 2 inches of the paper over the fruit, then from the long side roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll.  With a sharp knife, slice the rolled-up log into 1-inch pieces.

Solomen’s recipe uses apple butter to make the fruit leather, but she also suggests 1 1/2 cups of pureed bananas or 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries.

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Muskmelon Sorbet

The muskmelon from Michigan have been ENORMOUS at the farmers markets the last few weeks.  I cut up half of one to eat and still had enough to make about 2 quarts of melon sorbet.  The recipe is adapted from a book called Sweet Scoops by Shelly Kaldunski.  I received this book as a wedding shower gift, but haven’t tried many recipes from it yet.  It is a nice mix of classic and more modern recipes, and the author also give you recipes for cookies and cones, which might be fun to try one day.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now.  Twice with the muskmelon and once with watermelon & lime juice.  These melon sorbets are also great with tequila or vodka as well.  I pour it  into the ice cream maker during the mixing process.  Gives dessert a little kick!

Melon Sorbet

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup water

4 cups diced ripe melon

1 T fresh lemon juice

Pinch salt

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and ¾ cups water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved and a syrup is formed.  Let cool to room temperature.

Pour the cooled syrup into a blender or food processor.  Add the melon, lemon juice and salt and blend until very smooth.  Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or up to one day.  (I have omitted this step a couple of times and the sorbet still turns out fine.)

Pour the cold melon puree into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Spoon the sorbet into a freezer-safe container and place parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface.  Cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

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