Have a bumper crop of apples? Time to get out the dehydrator and make some absurdly easy snacks! Drying apples is a snap, cuts food waste, and leaves you with piles of chewy, delicious dried apples. Here’s what to know about how to dehydrate apples.
WHY TO CONSIDER LEARNING HOW TO DEHYDRATE APPLES
Whether or not you grow your own apples, drying apples is an easy beginner food preservation project, allowing you to put up food when it’s at its peak flavor and lowest price (or even free). There’s not much more to it than slicing up your apples, putting them on a dehydrator and turning it on. You can take a little more trouble if you want to, but it’s not necessary.
Dehydrating fruit is a great way to rescue produce that’s not getting eaten or preserve a bunch of fruit from your fruit trees. If you buy apples that turn out not to have the texture or flavor you wanted, drying them will magically turn them into a tasty, healthy treat. They’re a terrific way to satisfy your sweet tooth without busting your sugar budget. (Also try these out-of-this-world delicious 1-ingredient dried bananas!)
Drying your own fruit is also a great way to make zero waste snacks, no plastic packaging necessary!
Once you find out how easy and money-saving it is to dehydrate food, you’ll want to try drying lots more (like these zucchini chips), but if you don’t have a dehydrator you can certainly dry apples in the oven.
In addition to making yummy sweet snacks, learning how to dehydrate apples can mean adding little morsels of deliciousness to homemade granola, oatmeal, chia pudding, or baked goods like muffins and cookies.
Other advantages of dehydrated apples:
- They require no refrigeration
- They last up to a year in an airtight container, and even longer in the fridge. Great for emergency food!
- With the water removed, they’re lightweight, which makes them a packable snack for school lunches, camping trips or if you need a snack on-the-go
- Unlike apple desserts, apple rings have no added sugar but are still sweet and delicious
I’m a fan of root to stem eating, so if you want to make the most of those apple cores, consider making apple scrap vinegar or homemade pectin from them. Here are lots more frugal, green ways to eat root to stem.
HOW TO DEHYDRATE APPLES AND SAVE MONEY
If you don’t have your own apple trees, buy apples on sale or pick them from a local orchard and plan to put up a LOT. Though the nine trays on most dehydrators can hold a lot of apples, you’ll go through them quicker than you expect.
Or see if you can get some apples for free. You might find trees in your neighborhood no one is picking. Those of us growing our own fruit often have more than we can use and are so happy not to have them go to waste! Ask if you see a tree loaded with fruit whether they need help using up their apples. You can also put out a call on Freecycle or a neighborhood Facebook group. This gleaning app can also help you locate apple trees in your area.
Pro tip: There’s no reason you can’t dry multiple kinds of food at once, so if you’re not making an entire dehydrator’s worth of apples, check the produce drawer for other fruit that’s a bit past its prime or just not getting eaten and put it on, too. Pears, plums, peaches, and bananas are all AMAZING dried. And you’ll save energy running a full dehydrator.
WHAT VARIETIES MAKE THE BEST DEHYDRATED APPLES?
The kind you have! Honestly, dried apples are so forgiving, it’s hard to go wrong. I have a strong preference for sour fruits (why I love all things rhubarb and hibiscus!), so my favorite apples for dehydrating are tart varieties like Liberty and Haralson. But maybe you love sweet apples, and you will do just fine with Macintosh or Fuji or whatever variety you can get your hands on.
Time-Saving Tips and Troubleshooting
Skin on or off? I prefer leave the skin on for extra nutrition and time savings. Peeling dozens of apples can take awhile, and leaving them on cuts food waste while making this yummy snack even better for you. The skin contains fiber and quercetin, an antioxidant that can help with seasonal allergies.
Lemon juice: I don’t tend to bother with the lemon juice in this recipe, but others might be more concerned about appearance, so a quick dunk in diluted lemon juice means your dried apples won’t brown as much. Up to you!
Additional flavoring: I like my dried apples plain, but you can also experiment with adding a little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
If you don’t want crispy apples: Sometimes an overnight dehydrating session turns out to be too much, and you wind up with crispy apple chips. They’re still good, but I find them far less appealing than the chewy morsels you get with less-dried apples. If you wind up with overdone apples, leaving them out on humid days can help rehydrate them, or you put a wet washcloth under the dehydrator to add moisture back in more quickly.
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE DEHYDRATED APPLES
While you don’t need a dehydrator to make dried apples, it makes the process far more efficient.
And once you find how easy it to preserve tons of veggies, fruits, and herbs, you may decide a dehydrator is a good investment. This small, inexpensive one would work to get you started, but a larger (and not that much more expensive) one is generally more practical and comes with the very useful fruit screens and leather disks, vital for making delicious but healthy treats like homemade fruit leather.
You can go in on the cost with a friend or neighbor to make a dehydrator more affordable. This is the one I bought with a friend over a decade ago, and it’s still going strong. Here’s the one I want when it no longer works.
Oven method: Set your oven at the lowest possible temperature and dry on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mate for an hour before turning them over and baking another hour. Turn off the oven. Leave the apples in with the door cracked until cool, 1-2 hours. If you want to add spice, sprinkle in when you transfer apples to the container and give it a good shake. Or place in a bowl and toss If your apples got too crispy, you can let them reabsorb moisture from the air or place a wet cloth at the bottom of your dehydrator until they rehydrate.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 19gProtein: 0g
Set your oven at the lowest possible temperature and dry on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone mate for an hour before turning them over and baking another hour. Turn off the oven. Leave the apples in with the door cracked until cool, 1-2 hours.
If you want to add spice, sprinkle in when you transfer apples to the container and give it a good shake. Or place in a bowl and toss
If your apples got too crispy, you can let them reabsorb moisture from the air or place a wet cloth at the bottom of your dehydrator until they rehydrate.
Photo credits: Ajale, monfocus