Monday, October 21, 2013

Adventures in Dehydrating: Apple Chips

When we first got our dehydrator, apples were one of the first things we tried drying.  Apple chips are probably my favorite dried fruit.  You can easily dry them to the point of crispness, and they are always nice and sweet.  The only problem--buying apples in bulk has gotten more expensive over the last year or so.  I waited impatiently last fall for the prices to drop below a dollar a pound so we could bring home a big bag and get to drying, but apparently the apple crop took a big hit from the drought last year.  This year that is not the case, unfortunately the costs of everything keeps rising and apples have not really returned to their pre-drought prices.  Thankfully, Costco came through.  The 10 pound bags were finally under 10 bucks again. Their 10 pound bags are full of GIANT Red Delicious apples--which make a nice sweet chip.

We started by laying out a colored cutting board.  If you're cutting a bunch of apples and you accidentally forget to wash the board off right away, it will stain a white plastic cutting board--so we just use a colored one so that if it doesn't make it into the dishwasher until tomorrow, it won't be totally stained.  Next up you'll need an apple corer. On the big Costco apples, hubby had to double core some of the apples to get all of the seeds out, but the corer works much faster than a knife. We skip peeling the apples and just wash them off well before slicing.  If you make a crispy chip, you barely notice the peel is still on the apple (and besides--the peel is full of fiber--or at least that's what my Mom always told me).  

After the apple is cored, you can slice it on a Mandolin, or just use a nice sharp knife to cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.  We have tried several different concoctions to reduce the browning of our apples (lemon juice, water and lemon juice, etc...), but our favorite is orange juice.  It is acidic enough to keep the apples from turning really brown, and you don't taste the sour tang like you do when using lemon juice...the flavor sort of just disappears.

Fresh apples on dehydrator tray.

Then you just lay them out on the trays.  These giant apples filled up our dehydrator fast--only fit about 1 apple per tray.  Normal sized apples are more like 2 per tray. Set your dehydrator to the fruit setting (135 degrees) and dry for about 12 hours or until they are dry to the touch.  Once they are dry to the touch, you can decide how crispy you'd like them to be.  We like them crispy like chips. They are great for snacking, and are another good treat to share with the dog (in moderation--they are pretty sweet). The best bonus about making these apple chips is that the dehydrator pumps the wonderful sweet apple flavor all through your house while they are drying--it's even better than baking apple pie, I swear!

Dried apples on dehydrator tray.

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