This has been a banner year for apples and we have been preserving them every which way. One of my favorite methods is dehydration. It’s an easy process, plus the dried apples make a convenient, nutrient and fiber rich snack which is shelf stable for years. The slices can always be rehydrated at a later date.
What are some of the health benefits of apples? They help regulate blood sugar, provide antioxidants, contain anti-cancer, anti-asthma and cardiovascular benefits. [1, 2] Dehydrating apples will reduce some of the vitamin concentrations – namely vitamin C, the B vitamins thiamine and folate, and vitamin A as well some minerals.  However, they are still a high fiber, healthy and nutritious snack.
Judy’s Easy Steps to Dehydrating Apples
- Peel and core.
- Slice apples into rings 1/4″ thick.
- Place on trays; sprinkle with ceylon cinnamon (optional).
- Dehydrate at 135° for 5-6 hours.
- You know they are done when they feel leathery and still pliable; not sticky. You don’t have to dry to the point of being brittle.
- Place in airtight containers, such as glass canning jars or vacuum sealed bags, and store in a dark, cool pantry. They can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
NOTE: It is not necessary to sprinkle with sugar. Apples retain their sweetness when dried.
Jamie and I received a bare-bones dehydrator from his parents many years ago; it was a Ronco infomercial special! It was round, all plastic and did not have a circulating fan, timer or temperature control. It did the job – but not having a fan, timer or thermostat made it hard to dry evenly and shelves needed to be manually rotated. This past summer we upgraded to the premium model Excalibur with 9 stainless steel shelves, thermostat, fan and timer (the Excalibur also comes in other models). I’ve been putting it to good use this season dehydrating not only apple rings but also tomatoes, kale, and a variety of peppers (cayenne, anaheim chilis, and green bell peppers).
You can use rehydrated apples in any recipe that you would use fresh. Simply place the dried apples in a pyrex or other heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water over them – just enough water to cover the slices. Soak until soft, not mushy, and then drain; reserve the liquid to be used in the recipe if desired.
A Brief History of Our Small Orchard
In 1991, a few years after building our home in CT, Jamie planted a small orchard of fruit trees in our front yard: apples, peaches, pears, paw paws. I remember the time clearly because it was the year that we lost our niece, Lisa, at the tender age of 22. The orchard was dedicated to Lisa, as a way to keep her memory alive. Our first born, Kevin, was just a few years old at the time, and he helped during the tree planting ceremony by standing in each planting hole so Jamie could gauge if it was the right depth or not. 24 years later, the orchard has witnessed a multitude of seasons, the raising of our three children, and their inevitable flights out of the nest.
If you want to see more of our apple adventures, look for my post in Mother Earth News called, “Putting Up an Abundance of Apples”.