Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather
Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather
Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather
Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather
Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

Dzhigits & Cowboys

The idea of Cowboy Peach & Pecan Leather comes from my childhood delicacy churchkhela. It’s a natural fruit-n-nut snack popular in Georgia (ჩურჩხელა — churchkhela), Turkey (köme, orcik, pestil cevizli sucuk), Greece (σουτζούκος — soutzoukos), Armenia (քաղցր սուջուխ — kaghtsr sujukh). Since the main ingredients are grape juice and nuts, its origins are in regions famous for growing them.

When grape juice is thickened with wheat flour (more often, cream of wheat), it is called tatara, when with corn flour — pelamushi. Grape juice is cooked down till thick and the flavor of raw flour is gone. While simmering, juice impurities and flour proteins form foam on the surface. Tatara or pelamushi taste the best when 1) Concord variety of grape is used for the juice and the juice is concentrated, 2) the foam is skimmed, 3) a little or no sugar added.

Fresh nuts are threaded and dipped into tatara or phelamushi and dried in the sun for 3-6 days. Sometimes, other nuts (almonds and hazelnuts) and other fruit juices are used. Strings of chirchkhela are dripping for the first few minutes and it makes them look like upside down candles with a tail. Other people compare them to sausages.

Peach & Pecan

The main idea is to use what is locally plentiful and in season. In Central Texas, they are pecans and peaches. Unlike grape juice, 1 gallon of peach puree needs only 4 tablespoon of corn starch and 5 minutes of simmering to become thick enough for dipping.

Nuts & Strings

Threading nuts (has nothing to do with screw thread) can be fun, if nuts are fresh. No wonder Georgians make churchkhela when walnuts or hazelnuts are just harvested.

Measure the lengths and cut a piece of cooking twine long enough to make a knot on one end and a loop on another. Untwine the string and use one or two threads for each churchkhella. There are different hand-sewing needles to choose from. We want a needle with a long narrow eye to fit the cooking string and to go through the nut easily. Cutting board and fish bone pliers can be used to push the needle. A few bent paperclips make perfect hooks.

Before my favorite dehydrator Excalibur, I dried churchkhela hanging it to the broiler heating element in my oven with the lowest temperature and convection mode. Excalibur allows me to control the temperature and timing better without any supervision. Hanging from the top tray, constantly fanned with a 135F air, churchkhela is ready in a few hours.

You are welcome to come and taste the most authentic churchkhela and pelamushi or make it yourself at home. It’s not difficult at all. Making healthy snacks at home can be a fun project for kids.

Cowboy Peach & Pecan Leather

Prep Time7 hrs
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time13 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Georgian
Keyword: dessert, fruit, hazelnut, lycooking, lyukum cooking lab, peach, pecan, recipe
Servings: 10 sticks

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon peach puree
  • 1 lb pecans halves
  • 4 tbsp corn starch

Instructions

  • Blanch peaches, remove pits. I told Sandra Jenschke about peeling peaches and she said “why!? all the vitamins and color is there!” So, peel or don't.
    Early Texas Peaches
  • Blend 1/2 gallon of peaches with 2 tbsp of corn starch at a time. Use the highest speed. You need at least 2 minutes of processing to properly break skins.
    Peach Puree
  • In an heavy saucepan, slowly bring the puree to simmer and cook, constantly stirring with a whisk or spatula, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
    Thickened Peach Puree
  • Thread nuts, attach hooks to the loops. Prepare the oven or dehydrator. It's a good idea to place a tray under hanging churchkhelas.
  • One by one, dip nut strings into peach puree. Keep the thread loop with a hook in one hand, and spatula in another. Use spatula to push nut strings down into the thick paste. Pull up and lightly shake coated nuts to let extra coating drip.
  • Hang it to dry on 135F. Let the first coating dry for an hour, and check how thick the layer of fruit leather is. If you want it to be thicker, repeat dipping and drying 2-3 times. The last coating should be dried longer, for about 4 hours, until churchkhelas are dry to the touch. Remove the string before eating.

Notes

HOW TO MAKE CHURCHKHELA
Equipment
Excalibur dehydrator
Blendtec blender
My Favorite Local Peach Orchard
Jenschke Orchards
Ingredients for Grape Churchkhela
- 1 quart 100% Organic Concord Grape Juice
- 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/3 cup grape molasses
- 1/2 cup cream of wheat (dry)
Notes. Thickening starches dilute the flavor of grape juice. It needs to be either concentrated or intensified with molasses — pomegranate (no sugar added) for acidity and grape for grape flavor and sweetness. It is possible to use regular wheat flour, but cream of wheat makes the best flavor. The cons of using cream of wheat is that it makes the puree grainy. When cooked, blend tatara to break cream of wheat for better texture. I do not dehydrate my churchkhela to complete dryness. I like it softer.
Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather