It’s apple-picking season in Minnesota, and we have had so much fun gathering apples from every corner – neighbors, friends, a tree I never noticed right by the nearby high school, and two newly-discovered wild apple trees in the marsh behind our house. Of course apple orchards are another fun way to get your apple fix, but don’t underestimate your ability to find a crop of free, and probably pesticide-free, apples near you!
Drying apples is one of my new favorite ways to preserve apples – for one thing, it is less labor-intensive than making applesauce. Also, it is a super easy, and non-messy, snack for the kids on-the-go.
And I’m excited to tell you how easy this is! I simply sliced the entire apple into about 1/8-inch slices, removing the core from the slices that required it with a small circular tool – a plastic bottle cap would work. In my case, I used a steel frosting tip – random, I know. Assuming you don’t have a dehydrator, you will be using your oven. Your best bet would be to lay the rings out on cooling racks, but cookie sheets lined with a silicone mat or waxed paper also work. The cooling rack will just make the dry time shorter, and if you place the apples directly on sheets, you should flip them a couple times during drying. Place the apples into your oven at it’s lowest heat setting (must be below 200 degrees to avoid cooking the apples) and leave the door open a crack to help vent the moisture. Check the apples every couple hours if you’re able – especially if you are not using racks and need to flip the pieces. The drying process should take 6-9 hours. You will know they are dry when you can rub the apples between your thumb and forefinger, and the outer “skin” does not slip from the inner flesh – if it does, you know it is still moist inside, but if the apple feels firm and leathery, it is dry. Let the pieces cool and store them in an airtight container for months. They will keep even longer in the refrigerator, which is also a good option if you are unsure of whether you dried them long enough.
If you by chance have a dehydrator, dry the apples at about 135°F overnight. I do LOVE my dehydrator – you can dry all sorts of foods, plus make fun things like fruit leather so easily. It might be worth putting on your Christmas list!