In Washington we stayed at a small orchard where we were lucky enough, even in early November, to find amazing apples still on the leafless trees. We scampered up dew-covered ladders to collect the bright red and green gems to dehydrate, mush and juice for the winter.
Here are the steps on how to dehydrate apples for dry storage.
Step 1: Pick apples. You want to go for the apples that don’t look riddled with bugs or more importantly slashed open by a dirty bird’s beak. Ground apples are okay as long as they are clean and bug free.
Step 2: Wash the apples. Even if you got them fresh of a tree, al la organic style, you can still find germs and bacteria on the apples that you’d do better to avoid. Washing is just smart with anything you’ll be shoving into your face.
Step 3: Slice ‘em up! We tried ours in rings at first by coring the apple. This was really time consuming and a bit of a bore. You can get way more done if you simple quarter the apples and then cut out the core of each quarter. You waste less apple this way as well. Then slice the quartered sections into thin, chip-like slices.
* If you’re going to take your sweet time, drop the apple slices into lemon water to preserve them while you finishing slicing up the apples. This keeps them from turning brown.
Step 4: Lay ‘em flat. Cover your dehydrator in rows of apple slices. The closer the better because they will shrivel up a bit once they dehydrate.
Step 5: Add flavoring. Apple slices taste great just plain, but you can also sprinkle on the spices for a bit of a flavor punch. If you dipped your slices in lemon water they are ready to adhere spice. If not, you can sprinkle on spices right away and the moisture of the apple will hold the spice in place. Just sprinkle quickly before the apple browns over.
We did cinnamon on a few rows, ginger powder, orange peel powder and of course cinnamon-sugar on a few rows. I was also curious to try cayenne pepper on a few just to see what happened. I’d also recommend nutmeg, allspice and if you put vanilla extract in a spray bottle with some warm water you can get a sort of apple pie flavor once they dehydrate. Be creative and try your own mixes.
Step 6: Let your dehydrator go all day. 6-8 hours on the low side and overnight (10-12 hours) if you have a slower or less efficient dehydrator. We had two different models. One was nearly done in 7 hours, the other needed double that. You’ll have to play around with your device. You want a finished product that is NOT gooey, but still bends. You don’t want a chip, you want a bendy, fruity slice. Keep sampling until you get one that you love then hit the off switch.
Step 7: When you package up your finished apple slices, make sure you seal the container. Since it’s a food product it can still go bad, and can’t sit out on a shelf for too long. If you won’t be eating them within a month or two toss them in the freezer inside a dry bag. When you thaw them you can either soak them in water to rehydrate them (great for pies) or else just let them defrost on their own then eat them as normal.