Dried apples are a great snack, and they’re known to be a wonderful ingredient in winter compotes. You can also add them to fresh apples to make extra-rich applesauce. This method preserves the unique flavors of individual apple varieties. Save the leftover apple cores to make apple scrap vinegar, jelly, and homemade pectin.
Drying apples in a food dehydrator is an easy process. You can have your kids help load the trays or check the slices to see if they are dried. Depending on age and skill, they might also be able to help with slicing the apples.
What You Need
Besides a food dehydrator and apples, you only need a knife, acidulated water (water with vinegar or lemon juice) and jars for storage. Plan for about 15 minutes to slice the apples and arrange them on the trays. Then it will take about 12 hours to dehydrate the apples in the food dehydrator.
Slice Apples to the Correct Thickness
It’s important the apples are the right thickness before dehydrating. Slice the apples approximately 1/3-inch thick—they should be no thicker than 1/2-inch thick. Otherwise, they won’t dry well.
Drop the Apple Slices Into Acidulated Water
To minimize browning, the apple slices need to be placed in acidulated water as they are sliced. To make acidulated water, add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice per quart of water.
Draining the Apples
Before drying the apples, you need to drain them of any liquid. Place the apples in a colander and let them sit for a few minutes so they are really well-drained. If you’re in a hurry, spread the slices on a dishtowel and lightly press another dishtowel on top of them.
Place the drained, acidulated apple slices on dehydrator trays. Be sure none of the pieces are touching and that there is some space around each slice for air to circulate. This is an important step to get even drying.
Place the trays of apple slices into the dehydrator. Set the temperature for 130 F. Turn on the dehydrator and dry the apples until they have a leathery or crispy texture (depending on how you like them). This takes approximately 12 hours.
Cooling and Storage
When the apple slices are dry, turn off the dehydrator and remove the trays. Let the apples cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. This step is called “conditioning.”
Once the apple slices have been dehydrated and “conditioned” (cooled), transfer them to glass jars. Seal the jars tightly.
Label your jars so you know for sure the contents are dried apple slices. Also, include the date and year that you dried them. This way you can be sure you are using the oldest first if you have more than one jar.
Store the jars away from direct light or heat. The shelf life of home-dried fruits is six months to a year if kept in a glass jar in a dark, dry, cool environment, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.