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Hi.

I am Ana (also called Ana Banana). I come from Spain but I have been living in London for almost 7 years now. I am a Materials Engineer working designing prosthetic components for amputees. In my spare time, I make sure I spend most of it in school, being a STEM ambassador or baking a strange recipe I have found online.

This whole thing started as a result of winning I'm an Engineer, Get me out of here. I was awarded with a small price to use in Outreach activities. From the beginning, I realised that I should make the best out of the prize and therefore, by just organising a Workshop, I would not be able to each as many students as possible. This is  the reason why I decided to start this: to be a permanent resource available worldwide for everyone  to enjoy.

Edible 'leather'

Edible 'leather'

I have been doing a lot of experiments in the last few months with different foods. I am particularly interested in achieving new textures with different methods.

Today I want to show you how to turn mangos, or really, any fruit (strawberries, apples, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, or even a combination of them) into sheets to make things with. 

The texture that you will achieve is very similar to leather. It is quite tough, pliable, and you can do all sorts of things with it. Today I decide it to saw it in to a nice envelope using cotton thread.

The principle of how this works is very simple: DEHYDRATION by EVAPORATION. By removing as much as we can the water content from the fruit, we are left with the bare minimum: sugars, fibre, protein and all the minerals that it contains.

This is just VERY EASY.

I used two ripe mangos

Mango

Cut them and chop them and put them on a food processor. You can also use a hand blender or a smoothie maker (such as Vitamix)

Chopped mango
Mango in food processor

Make sure you blend it until silky smooth. Every now and then, use a spatula to make sure that there are no chunks left

Smooth puree

Now heat up the oven at 75 or 100 degrees C. 

Prepare a large oven tray with parchment paper or a Silpat

Pour the puree on the tray and make sure that it is all spread along the surface. Try to make sure you achieve an even surface in a rectangular shape.

Leave in the oven for a few hours at 75 to 100 degrees C

Pour puree

After a few hours, if it feels dry to the touch, try to lift it from a corner to see if it can be peeled off in one piece. If that's the case, turn the whole sheet to let it dry on the other side. I didn't do it, so I got a bit of a wet patch.

Be patient to leave it to dry for as long as necessary. It is not a matter of raising the temperature, leave it low but for longer, you just want to eliminate the water but not cook it. 

Dehydrated

When it peels off clean, it is ready. You can see now how it is pliable and it can be rolled.

Be careful not to dry it too much, otherwise it can become brittle and will break.

Pliable fruit leather

I found a stencil of an envelope stencil from Pinterest HERE.

Place it on your sheet making sure the stencil so that it is all covered by the fruit sheet

Stencil

Cut the 'leather' following the stencil.

Once it is cut, folder over the dotted line to shape it. 

Cut and fold

Grab your forgotten sewing kit and with any colour cotton and begin to thread your needle. I chose black to make it stand out.

Now, it is time for you to dust off your sewing skills and sew on the sides. It is obvious that mine are pretty poor, but I made it work.

I recommend using a cymbal because it can get a bit hard to pass the needle through the 'leather'.

Sew the leather

And that's it. Done! An edible envelope! You can use it for anything! Cake decoration, part of a gift or use it to preserve food (without needing to sew it together). 

Dehydration is an excellent way of preserving food. Next time you have some sad-looking fruit in your kitchen, use this method to turn it into fruit leather. Without water, it is more difficult to bacteria to live, so it will keep for months (or not, because it is delicious to it and it will get eaten pretty soon). 

Make sure you keep the cutouts from the stencil and turn them into fruit leather roll ups. 

Finished products
Foam (Part 1)

Foam (Part 1)