Apples are one of my very favorite fall foods. The aromas of fresh cider, cooked apple butter and dried apples all have special memories in my family. If you have never tried to dry apples I’d like to encourage you to give it a try. The process is fairly simple if you have a dehydrator and the outcome is one your family will surely enjoy. Because the process is one that removes moisture from the food, it will take a large quantity to begin with, about 12 pounds of apples will end up to about 1 ¼ pounds or about 3 pints of dried product.
Choose your favorite apple to dry. Then decide how you are going to use them? Do you want rings or slices? Then proceed to peel, core and cut. Try to cut pieces evenly for best product in overall drying. Thinner slices will dry more quickly than thicker ones.
One concern we need to address is how to keep the apples from turning dark from oxidation. You can use one of the following methods:
Ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C, keeps fruit from darkening and enhances the destruction of bacteria during the drying process. You can purchase either Ascorbic acid or other commercial antioxidant mixtures from grocery or drug stores. Usually, one quart of solution treats about 10 quarts of cut fruit, mix it according to the directions on the label. Allow fruit to soak in the solution for about 10 minutes, and then drain well.
Lemon Juice or citric acid may also be used to keep the apples from turning dark. For lemon juice, mix equal parts of juice and water and allow fruit to soak for 10 minutes, and drain well.
The above methods are not essential in the drying process.
If you have a dehydrator, place the treated (or untreated) fruit in single layers on the trays close together, but not overlapping and dry at 140 degrees F. for about 8-12 hours, depending on how thick the slices are. Check on your apples the last couple of hours as they will dry more quickly than in the beginning. If possible rotate trays a couple of times through the process to ensure even drying.
If you are using an oven to dry, use the lowest setting possible and leave the door ajar. If you have small children, this may not be a safe method for you to try. Place the slices or rings on cookie or jelly roll sheets, close together, but not overlapping. To hasten the drying, place a fan close to the opening to help with air circulation. Rotate the trays every couple of hours. Drying time will vary, but allow 6-8 hours as oven temperatures generally are warmer than most dehydrators.
How will you know when they are dry enough? They should be leathery and pliable, so that you can fold them in half, but they won’t stick together. Store them in a glass jar after allowing them to cool and make sure no condensation appears. If you see moisture, place back in the dehydrator to continue drying.
How can you use dried apples? They are great as a snack or to include in your favorite trail mix. There are many recipes for dried apples that utilize their sweet flavor, but keeping them around for baking may be a challenge as they are so good by themselves. Give it a try and see if you can make a new fall favorite memory!
Author: Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wayne County
Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Putting Food By: Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan. 5th Edition, pages 363-382.