Dried apples are a healthy alternative to chips or sweets. You can even use them for snacks, desserts, or mix them with your favorite recipes.
Dehydrating apples at home can also be a fun activity with your children. When you’ve prepared plenty of dried apples, mix them with applesauce, pies, or segregate them in small containers for a healthy snack on the go!
READ ALSO: 10 Amazing Benefits of Dehydrating Food
How to Dehydrate Apples at Home
Which apples are best for dehydrating?
There are many varieties of apples that you can use for dehydrating. The top two variants for dehydrating apples are Gala and Fuji Apples. Your other options are Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious apples. Here are the recommended apples for dehydrating depending on their taste:
- Gala Apples – This mildly sweet apple is available all year-round. They are harvested every August in the state of Washington. Gala apples are round, covered by a pale golden yellow with a stripy red blush. The inside of the apples is crisp, firm, and slightly yellow. Gala apples are slightly smaller than other variants and are great for kids’ snacks.
- Fuji Apples – Fuji apples are the sweetest variant and are available all year-round. Since they are easy to store, Fuji apples are your best bet when dehydrating apples. The interior of the apples is firm, fine-grained with creamy white flesh, juicy, and sugary-sweet in flavor.
- Granny Smith Apples – This Australian variant is bright green and has a tart flavor. The interior is firm, has bright white flesh, and grainy. Granny Smith apples are harvested every September but are available all year-round. If you opt for lesser sweetness when dehydrating apples, this variant is your best bet.
Preparation for dehydrating apples at home
Now that you know about the different apple variants, it is crucial to know how to prepare your apples before dehydrating them. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare your apples:
- Cleanse your apples thoroughly – Wash the apples under running water and use a clean brush to scrub them. Avoid soaking them in water as it can lead to contamination. Also, avoid soap or detergent because the apples can absorb the residue.
- Slice the apples – Slice the apples with the correct thickness – not more than ½ inch thick – so that they dry properly. Slice them at least 1/3 inch for better quality.
- Pre-drying treatment – Immersing your apples in an acidulated wash before dehydrating ensures that they avoid browning. There are different types of pre-drying treatments to try out. Here are two recommended methods before dehydrating apples:
- Ascorbic acid wash – You can purchase ascorbic acid crystals or just regular ascorbic acid tablets from the drugstore. Dissolve two teaspoons of ascorbic acid crystals in 1 quart of water then dip 3 quarts worth of sliced apples. Drain the apple slices well or leave them on paper towels to dry. Take note that half a teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals is equivalent to 3 500mg Vitamin C tablets.
- Fruit juice soak – Although this method can add flavor to the apples, it is practical and cost-efficient. You can use juices from citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, pineapple, and orange. Soak them in the juice for 10 minutes then drain well. You can reuse the juice for the remaining apples and even drink it.
- Acidulated water soak – You can also use 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and mix it in 1 quart of water. After slicing the apples, just soak them in the acidulated water then dry well.
Different methods of dehydrating apples at home
There are various ways you can dehydrate your delicious apples at home. Finding the best method depends on your time and available resources. To help you choose the best method, here are the steps in dehydrating apples using various techniques:
Using a food dehydrator
- Wash the apples thoroughly.
- Slice them in the proper thickness.
- Use the pre-drying treatment of your choice.
- Drain the apples on paper towels.
- Arrange the apple slices in a food dehydrator. Make sure that they don’t overlap or touch each other.
- If you want raw apples, dehydrate them for 18 to 24 hours at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, you can dehydrate them for 12 to 14 hours at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Turn the apple slices once, halfway through the dehydration process.
- Store them in glass jars or Ziploc bags.
- Easy and convenient. You can even enlist your kids’ help.
- You can leave the apples while they are in the dehydrator without checking on them or turning them every once in a while.
- Energy efficient.
- Expensive. A food dehydrator can cost you from $100 to $400 depending on the capacity and wattage.
READ ALSO: Which Food Dehydrator is Right for You
Dehydrating apples using an oven
- Wash and slice the apples.
- Pre-treat them in your preferred acidulated wash to prevent browning.
- Drain well or dry in paper towels.
- Arrange the apple slices on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper, without touching or overlapping.
- Bake them at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 hours. Flip them over then bake them for another 10 hours.
- Make sure you check the apples after 10 hours to ensure that they are drying properly.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, tear a piece and check for moisture on the break area.
- Condition the dry apples by placing them in a glass jar, about 2/3 full. Cover and shake the jar several times a day for a week.
- If moisture shows up in the glass jars, you need to return the apple slices and bake them for an hour or two in its lowest temperature.
- After conditioning the dehydrated apples, store them in airtight containers and keep them away from heat or direct light. It is okay to fill up the jar when storing the dehydrated apples.
- You don’t have to purchase new equipment if you already have an oven.
- Most ovens only allow a minimum of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so you need to slightly open the oven door and use a fan to help circulate the air.
- A bit tiresome and makes the room hot due to the hot air from the oven.
- A tedious and lengthy process because one session in the oven does not ensure that they are adequately dehydrated.
Drying apples in the sun
- Wash, core and slice the apples.
- Soak them in an acidic solution to prevent browning.
- Drain them on paper towels.
- Arrange the apple slices on a rimmed baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Leave them out in the sun and cover them loosely with cheesecloth to prevent contamination.
- When the sun is setting, bring the tray indoors and place them in a dry spot.
- Turn the apple slices.
- The next day, dry them out in the sun again. The sunning process typically takes two days depending on how long you leave them out in the sun.
- When the flesh of the apples are free from moisture, place them in brown bags and air dry them outdoors.
- When all the moisture is gone, store them in airtight containers. Check regularly for moisture. When this happens, dry them out in the sun again.
- Economical and cheap because you only need the energy and heat of the sun.
- Easy to do because you only need to spread out your apple slices, cover them with cheesecloth or net, and leave them out to dry.
- This method is complicated because you cannot control the weather and temperature, and you need to ensure that you have plenty of sunlight and heat, but low humidity.
- If the apple slices don’t dry properly, they may develop molds.
- Takes much time and you need to watch over the apple slices and transfer them to a different spot to ensure that sunlight reaches them. You also need to make sure that insects do not get to your apple slices.
Drying apples over a wood stove
- Wash, core and slice the apples.
- Soak them in acidulated solution to prevent browning.
- Drain them well on paper towels.
- Using the oven rack or a grill just small enough, so the apple slices don’t drop from the spaces, suspend them over your wooden stove. You can do this by suspending the rack with strings or propping it up with tin cans. You can also place the oven rack over the wood stove but set it to very low temperature.
- Place the dehydrator screen on top of the oven rack.
- Arrange the apple slices on the dehydrator screen without touching each other. Rotate the screen for even drying.
- The drying process takes 8 to 14 hours. Halfway through the process, turn the apple slices to dry the other side.
- Turn off the stove and let the apple slices cool.
- Transfer them to a glass jar or airtight container for storage.
- The result is crispier and whiter apples as compared to other methods.
- Quicker drying process.
- Economical because you only need wood to fuel the stove.
- This method only works on a wood stove.
Storing your dehydrated apples
When your apples are entirely dehydrated, you need to store them in airtight or vacuum sealed containers. Make sure that you pack the dehydrated apples tightly. Here are some storage options:
Glass jars – This is your best option because you can easily see if moisture forms in the inside of the jar.
Zipper bags – Zipper bags are also good because they consume less storage space. Make sure you remove as much air as possible to prevent molds and moisture from forming.
Metal containers – If you need to store them for snacks in a metal container, wrap them in a plastic bag first so they don’t react with the metal.
Freezing – Wrap the apples well in zipper bags, removing the moisture, and store them in freezer-safe containers. You can store them in the freezer for two years.