Eek!! The flu is running rampant this season, and while spring is quickly approaching, we still have a few weeks left before winter releases her icy grip. Well.. I live in California so it's basically just a "cold summer's day" over here... but still.
I'm a strong believer in incorporating foods high in “immunity boosters” before popping some vitamin C packets to help stay flu/sickness free or to help with recovery from a nasty bout. This week, I experimented with making dehydrated fruit leather tonics as the best remedy is a preventative remedy!
This recipe really packs a punch, and these ingredients will definitely kick any germs to the curb!! I recommend playing with quantities as these can be overwhelmingly “lemony”. That's fine with me! I eat lemon wedges, so the flavor was nice and potent, just how I like it! If you're more sensitive to lemon, I would suggest diluting with another fruit like apple or banana.
So, when making a kick ass immunity boost, what ingredients should you use? My superfood checklist for this tonic included a few must haves such as:
The lemon and mushroom formed the base of this “smoothie”, and in retrospect I would probably do a 2:1 or 3:1 mushroom to lemon ratio. I made one recipe with a 1:1 and one with a 1.5:1. I enjoyed both, but my boyfriend said the 1:1 is too strong for him.
I suggest peeling 4 lemons, blending, and then slowly adding mushrooms to the blender. Taste test after addition and stop once the flavor is the right balance of lemon to mushroom. Remember, flavors often become more intense after dehydrating as the moisture is gone, and the sugar is more concentrated.
Because all of these are such strong flavors, I'm not going to include measurements here. You really need to taste test as you go along to find the right blend for you!
Also, you may be tempted to skip the black pepper, but think twice before doing that! Besides relieving nausea and headaches (among other benefits), freshly cracked - or ground! - black pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric which means your body is able to make better use of the turmeric. So don't skip the black pepper if you want to reap the full benefits!
Now, onto business!
Depending on the consistency of the puree, you may want to add in a natural thickener, like agar agar, pectin, or corn starch. You can also simmer on the stove for 2-5 minutes to help thicken up the puree.
Once done, pour onto dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 125 and not 135 since the majority of ingredients are vegetables, and I left the dehydrator running for approximately 8-10 hours. I like my leathers on the crunchy side, so I dehydrated closer to 14 hours.
If you don't have a dehydrator, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dry at your oven's lowest temperature. Depending on how low your oven goes, your leathers will vary between 4-8 hours.
Your leathers are done when they peel completely off your fruit leather tray or your oven's parchment paper tray. You should be able to bend the leather without it cracking. The leather should be slightly sticky to touch, but when pressed together the sides will not stick.
I'm planning on grinding some into powder to add to hot water as a true tonic, so I let some of mine become crunchy!
I've always found leathers easier to roll when still warm, so cut into fun shapes and either wrap or store in a ziplock baggy!