As an alternative to drying fruit whole, they can be pulped first and spread out to make fruit leather. I tried this for the first time last year using a mixture of rosehips and haws, and it was delicious, so I'm repeating that as well as extending the range this year. Haws (fruit of the hawthorn tree) are invaluable for providing pectin, which is essential for fruit leather. My first batch was made with blackberries and haws picked when foraging in Wiltshire. I stewed the fruit in a pan together, roughly equal quantities of the two kinds, and kept stewing it until most of the water had evaporated.
Once I had a thick, stodgy mess in the pan, I pushed it through a seive to remove the pips and stones. This is hard work and takes ages, but can be done whilst watching telly, so it's not too bad. When I got fed up of trying to separate pulp from pips and had a suitably thick paste in the bowl, I tasted it and added a bit of honey to sweeten. You could use sugar, but I fancied honey - not the runny kind, though, because I didn't want to add too much liquid. Once it tasted about right* I spread it thinly on a non-stick baking tray.
Spreading fruit pulp on a baking tray. This one's damson. I did have a better picture of an earlier batch, but deleted it by mistake. Sorry.
This then needs drying. In warmer weather I could probably do this in the conservatory, but it would need protection from flies. As it's pretty cold and damp here at the moment, I'm using the oven for drying. This means putting the tray in the oven on a very low temperature for an hour or two, then turning the oven off and leaving overnight. If it's still sticky in the morning, put the oven on again for a bit. I think opening the door periodically would probably help, too.
I did try being economical by putting one batch of leather on a low shelf while cooking cakes on a higher shelf. They don't need the oven very hot, so I thought that would be OK. It was OK, but the resulting leather had a strong taste of caramel, which might not be what you're aiming for.
When dry, fruit leather looks like this:
As these were stickier on the tray side than the air side (unsurprisingly) I decided to fold them over so they stuck to themselves and made double thickness leather, which I then cut into snack bar sized pieces.
As you'll have picked up from the rest of this post, I've made several batches of this. The first was blackberry and haw, using the Wiltshire hedgerow fruit - most delicious. The second was bilberry and haw using local fruit. The bilberries were right at the end of their season and the haws were barely at the start of theirs, so neither fruit was at its best. This was OK, but not as good at the blackberry one. The next batch was damson (no haws in this one as damsons are high pectin themselves), using a pound of windfalls that next door's tree had dropped onto our driveway. I couldn't bear to see them sitting there going rotten! That one was very tasty but possibly a bit too sharp. I probably should have added a bit more honey.
I have another batch of damsons on the go now (I got permission from the neighbours to actually pick their fruit). This time I've left the stewed pulp fairly wet and hung to drip for cordial first, then I'll make leather with the remaining pulp. I'm assuming the flavour will be less intense as I'll have taken some off for cordial, but damsons have a lot of flavour to start with, so there should be plenty to go round. I'm also planning a rosehip one, as that was so nice last year... in fact, as the haws are now a bit riper, I might just go and do that right now!
*One advantage of fruit leather is that it needs much less sugar (or honey) than other methods of preserving fruit, such as jam,