Looking for something wild to throw in your kids’ lunchbox? I’m a single mom, and trying to keep up with regular cooking is always a challenge. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) berry fruit leather helps fill hungry stomachs and always seems to be a hit with the kids. High fructose corn syrup is found in fruit roll-ups, so you can feel good about limiting it in your child’s diet. It interfere’s with the brain’s ability to release hormones letting you know you’re full. Toyon berries are also used by the Chumash in the treatment of Alzheimer’s (click here to read more). So, good brain food for us all.
I like to tell my son he’s a big bird when he’s eating his Toyon fruit leather. We take a minute to look at all the birds who come to feast on the Toyon trees across the creek. These berries are a midwinter treat for the animals, especially birds like: California thrashers, robins, cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, purple finches, flickers, warblers, song sparrows and more.
The Toyon berries are just barely hanging on. So if you have some in your yard, be sure to get out there and gather some before they’re done for the season. Fruit leather can always be dried in a nice sunny location outdoors, but I only get 2 1/2 hours of direct light a day where I live. It also happens to be the rainy season, so I use my dehydrator. If you are serious about putting up your own food I would highly recommend purchasing a high-quality dehydrator. Click here to visit the Excalibur Food Dehydrator website. If you can swing it, they’re a nice investment…but they are spendy and do need electric power.
Toyon Berry Fruit Leather
1 c roasted Toyon berries
2 c unsweetened applesauce (Solana Gold unsweetened organic applesauce from Sebastopol, CA found at Topanga Market)
2 T honey
2 t cinnamon
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Spread out as thinly as you can onto Teflex dehydrator sheets, or onto baking sheets. Set dehydrator to 115° and set timer for roughly 10 hours (check regularly). If you are using the oven, place baking sheets into oven at 250° for roughly one hour. I let the fruit leather cool on the pans, and then slowly peeled it off. Store in airtight container and enjoy.