Categories: Desserts & Sweets

Bastegh, sweet-tart fruit leather

Have you ever heard of “Nanny Candy?”

If you’re Armenian, and you have or had a grandmother, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

My grandmother, Yeranuhe Nanny, always had candy in her house – but not American candy like Hershey’s Kisses or Snicker’s bars.

Her favorites were candy-coated dried chickpeas, and pastel-colored, sugar-covered almonds that were so hard you were afraid you’d break a tooth. Then there was the glass bowl on her coffee table filled with sugary, multi-colored hard candies that would invariably clump together from the humidity, making it impossible to separate.

Occasionally, as we’d be driving home from church, Nanny would rummage through her purse, pull out a crumpled but clean tissue, and offer us kids some of her “special” traveling candy. She’d carefully unwrap the tissue to display the selection, expecting us to joyfully pick a favorite.

Much to our dismay, we’d find that each piece was covered in tissue lint. She never quite understood why we rejected her sweet treat offer.

There’s only one candy that Nanny had that we didn’t reject. Bastegh, or Fruit Leather. Hers was a homemade delight. She didn’t make it often, but when she did, it didn’t last long because it tasted so good! Nanny used the grapes from her backyard vine and extracted the juice- a messy and tedious procedure. To make things simpler, the modern-day cook is wise to use bottled grape juice.

Here’s how to make Bastegh:

Print

Bastegh

Sweet-tart, chewy, homemade fruit leather.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting and drying time 3 days
Total Time 3 days 20 minutes
Servings 2 sheets

Ingredients

  • 3 cups purple grape juice apple juice may be substituted
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar or to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • Cornstarch for later use

Instructions

  • In a large pot, combine the juice and sugar. Heat gently until the sugar begins to dissolve.
  • Slowly whisk in the sifted flour. Be sure the flour is well-blended to prevent lumping. If lumps appear, carefully pour grape mixture through a strainer, discarding any lumps. Return grape mixture to pot.
  • Bring mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.
  • When the mixture begins to thicken, remove pot from the heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
  • When the mixture begins to thicken, remove pot from the heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
  • Place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets. Dividing the mixture in half, spread it to a thickness of 1/8 inch using an off-set spatula, or the back of a large spoon. Allow about an inch or more of the edge parchment paper to show or else you’ll have trouble hanging it to dry or peeling the paper away from the fruit leather later on. (Special note: this is a messy procedure, so spread extra parchment paper around the table to collect any drips.)
  • Allow to set for 24 hours.
  • Hang the fruit sheet(s) on a clothesline to dry – about a day or two. If drying indoors, place parchment or newspaper on the floor – just in case!
  • When the fruit sheet is dry, carefully peel away the parchment paper and discard.
  • Sprinkle and spread cornstarch on the fruit leather to prevent it from sticking.

To Serve:

  • Cut fruit leather into strips or squares. Wrap the leather around a piece of walnut – or any other kind of nut, and enjoy! Eating it plain is great, too.

To Store:

  • Place cut pieces in a plastic bag, or cover tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator.

Notes

WARNING: Don’t try to make bastegh when it’s hot and humid. Trust me, I know. After the bastegh set for 24 hours, I hung the sheets of grape-covered parchment paper, as directed.
Within 20 minutes I noticed purple globs on the tile floor- not a pretty sight!

View Comments

  • Thanks for your request, Carol. I'll post a full recipe for Roejig on December 29th - be on the lookout for it.

  • You have no idea how enlightening this post is. We are huge fans of the Syrian dried apricot paste that can be found in most Arabic / Mediterranean stores. My father always called it Bastegh but I never realized that it wasn't that specific product. Now I know!

  • Thank you for posting this recipe. My kids are obsessed with bastegh but we only buy it from the church bazaars. My grandmother would make it from the grapes in our yard, and I've been scared to try it that way. But making it with grape juice sounds a lot easier!!!!

  • Tamar, The last time I tried using the food dehydrator, I turned apricot halves into hockey pucks.
    Does using a dehydrator work well for making bastegh?

  • Since my grandmother had an apple tree in the back yard, my only exposure to bastegh was from rendered apples. We called it apple candy. She would add a bit of lemon juice to it. The rendered apples were then spread onto bed sheets, sprinkled with corn starch, and then hung on the line to dry.

  • Just because something is "traditional" in no way makes it "correct" or even good. Consider how many ethic dishes still subject children to nothing more than a history lesson of how poor, culinary limited, and very hungry their ancestors were.

    There is *no* rational reason to make Bastegh with flour. Fruit leather by any other name is fruit leather. The flour serves no other purpose than to thicken it, which can be done without the introduction of the unnecessary flavors of flour. Use Xanthan Gum, powdered sugar, and a food dehydrator. You do not have to cook it, so you do not drive off volatile flavor compounds.

    You then can make something your great-grandmother would be proud of, like Mango Chili "Bastegh":
    http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/mango-chili-leather/

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