Monday, October 5, 2009

Dehydrating Apples

Did I mention that it is apple season here on the mountain? I love this time of year! It's so fun to go the orchards and sample the new varieties, try some cider, maybe an apple turnover, and of course, pick up a bushel of apples!

My family really likes apples. They go so well with cheese and they're great for baking or just dipping (see recipe tomorrow). But one of their favorite things is to snack on apple chips. And fortunately, my new dehydrator arrived just in time!

Can you believe my dear husband bought this with his birthday money - for me? Naturally, he would like lots of goodies from it, which I'm happy to accommodate, starting with apples...

1. Core and slice in uniform pieces. I have used an old fashion apple peeler/slicer in the past, but my husband likes the peels and it is a bit messy and time consuming. This year I'm doing it differently. I cut them in half first (because my apple corer handle broke and was difficult to use, otherwise I would core first, then slice).

For slicing, I purchased this nifty gadget at William-Sonoma for nearly half price! I was skeptical at first, but the salesman said that W-S has a return policy that is outstanding - If you don't like it, return it. And according to him, there was not time limit. Not to worry, this thing is a work horse! I've abused it and used it. This thing makes potatoes into fries in seconds (which I roast with olive oil and salt in the oven). For slicing, you just change out the slicer and the attachment in the lid, push down hard a couple of times and you have slices.

I need to state again, because it is very important... the slices need to be as uniform as possible. That way your produce dries at the same rate. For apples, they need to be 1/4" or less when sliced. That's why I use some device to help make them uniform (plus it saves a ton of time). I have also used a mandolin in the past, but it never worked very smoothly and was very dangerous! Three different family members (myself included) all cut themselves on it at some point and time. It would be easy to slice a finger off! This gadget from W-S is very safe. I can let all the kids work it although my youngest isn't quite strong enough to do it with hard foods.

Next I toss the slices in lemon juice to keep them from turning too brown. You can use other stuff, but I like to keep it natural and the lemon brings out the tart flavor. If you want, you can toss them with a bit of cinnamon at this point as well.

Once they are sliced and dipped, they are ready for the dehydrator. This batch was done before I went to bed and was ready the next morning. For apples slices, they need to be pliable when done.

Don't they look wonderful? I just vacuum sealed them with my jar sealer attachment and they'll stay nice for months! If they last that long! I think I may need to make more...

This is a great way to enjoy fall flavors well into winter. We'll most likely just snack on most of these, but they can be rehydrated with a bit of water for baking or cut into small pieces for granola. I think I may get a book with recipes for dehydrated food at the library for more ideas.
I'm off to dehydrate something else!


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