Well, it happened again. It was like any other weekend morning. Cruising around Whole Foods, doing my weekly shopping. I decided to try out some of the bulk bin Swiss muesli to switch up my breakfast routine; as I scooped the cereal into a bag, I noticed very few bits of dried apple, but thought to myself that those little apple pieces would be one of the best parts of the dish. I knew the solution was easy.
Sure, I could have just reached over a few bins and loaded up on dried apples. But much like the Meyer lemons I stumbled upon a few weeks back, desire met motivation and a preservation plan was set into motion.
The timing couldn’t have been better; I’ve been meaning to bust out the dehydrator I purchased the day after Christmas (25% off sale, yes please!) for some time, and this was the perfect opportunity to get some practice. I missed out on putting up local apples this past year due to academia swallowing up most of my life. I mean, I ate plenty of local apples; they’re seriously one of my favorite foods I get from the farmers market each autumn. Supermarket offerings don’t hold a candle to the aroma, flavor, and unique varietals brought by vendors at the market. I just didn’t have the time, energy, or supplies (dehydrator, in this case) to preserve as I had wanted. Applesauce and apple butter are on my 2012 Can Plan (it’s ready!), but dried apple rings are such a satisfying on-the-go snack. I’m guessing most of my local apple preservation purchases will be put up in this form come fall.
I like the idea of dehydrating because the technique allows for no added sugar, salt, or acid and low-temperature processing, which, in theory, better maintains the vitamin content in foods. My trusted nutrient analysis website (which, by the way, is mostly based off of the USDA’s nutrient database, if you had any integrity concerns) indicates that dehydrated apples, in small quantities, are not as nutrient dense as I would like, but hey- I feel MUCH better eating a handful of dried apples than a less healthful alternative.
I decided to experiment with ascorbic acid for my first run. It acts as a preservative (for color mostly, but also texture and flavor) and is suggested in many preservation texts. I did half of my slices with and half without; treated apples went on the bottom racks, of course, in case any dripping were to occur. Admittedly, I did not find this had a substantial effect on my apple rings, but I’m guessing it would be noticeable if I had the rings in storage for quite awhile.
Dried Apple Rings
Makes enough to fill about 3 wide-mouth pint jars
- apples (I used 10 Honeycrisp)
- ascorbic acid solution (optional; 1 tbsp powder for each quart water)
Wash the apples. Remove the core of each apple.
You can leave local apples unpeeled if you prefer, but I don’t really like how tough the skins get, so I (would) peel them. If you have purchased your apples from a grocery store like I did, chances are they have been coated in wax, whether they are conventional or organic; for this reason, I strongly suggest you peel them.
Slice the apples into rings about 1/4 – 3/8″ thick. If you want, you can pre-treat your apples in the ascorbic acid solution to prevent darkening; as you slice, place rings in a bowl with the solution.
Place the apple rings on dehydrator trays in a single layer. My dehydrator model’s manual says apples should take between 4-10 hours to finish when dried at 135 degrees F; my batch, with all five trays completely filled, took between 6-8 hours (as with virtually all dehydrated foods, pieces do not finish all at once).
You know they’re ready when the slices feel dry to the touch (a bit of tackiness, but not dampness, should be ok) and moisture droplets do not form upon tearing an apple ring. Store in airtight containers in a cool, dark, and dry location (50-60 degrees F is optimal) or refrigerate.
I put these up to eat as is, but you can also rehydrate apple rings to use as fresh apples. Just cover rings with boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes or until fluffy. You can also dunk the slices in sweetener (honey, maple syrup) or sprinkle with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) prior to dehydrating, but I prefer to keep mine as minimalist as possible.