October 29, 2013

Dried Apples

The Sailor arrived home this weekend and as soon as he walked into the apartment, he immediately noticed the enormous quantity of apples, apples and more apples, adorning the table. 

I remembered I wanted to do something with all of those apples... 

I made an apple cake, but that barely made a dent in one of the bowls. 

I needed another solution before these fantastically fresh apples straight from the orchard would start rotting. 

A few years ago, my mom and I were out shopping, and she bought me a food dehydrator on a whim. I had mentioned that I wanted to experiment with beef jerky for the Sailor. The jerky process still needs some work. (In the meantime, the Sailor has built his own contraption to make South African biltong that I promise to feature later.)

In any case, we seemed to go through dried fruit like crazy in our house and I figured there must be a cheaper way to keep it in stock. I also didn't like that a lot of dried food products contained a ton of preservatives. 

I wanted to keep things simple, even if it meant we had to eat the dried stuff faster than the purchased preserved kind. Over the years, I've experimented on a lot of fruit, but apples are some of the fastest and easiest to dehydrate.

I simply core them, peel them by hand, slice them fairly thin, and then give them a good dip in lemon water to help preserve them. 

Sometimes my timing isn't great. I got a little over ambitious this time and I cored a dozen apples before I started peeling them. I'm a fairly fast peeler, but the cores were already turning brown in the meantime before I could get them in the lemon water. 

Make sure you also get cut off any bruised bits. 

You don't have to peel them in any case. It's perfectly acceptable to leave apple skins on the apples. Unless you don't like apple skins. I do like apple skins though, so I'm not sure why I've always peeled them when dehydrating. (I'm thinking the Sailor had a say in the process at some point...

Then, I let them dry out in the dehydrator. It usually takes about five hours depending on the type of apple and thickness, until they're the right consistency. If I'm ever in doubt about whether they've dried out enough, I just keep the stash in the fridge (many dried fruits in packages advise you to store the stuff in the fridge after opening in any case!) 

Cost-wise, I have calculated that it is usually cheaper to dry out my own stuff, depending on where and when I buy the fruit. In this case, it worked out about the same price -- but I can eat my dehydrated apples knowing they came straight off the tree and were dried out with only lemon water as an additive.

Plus, how fun is it to just watch fruit shrivel up in a matter of hours? 

If you don't have a dehydrator, you can get the same effects as one by simply using your oven on a very low temperature. You'll need to experiment as to how long it takes -- best done on a day where you don't have to leave the house! 

* I have this dehydrator. It was definitely on sale when my mom and I found it. I'm sure that's why it got purchased on a whim. I liked this one because you can purchase more racks to dehydrate more food at one time.

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