Crunchy Dried Apples

September 20, 2009

Dried apples, made right, are as thin and crunchy as potato chips.  Dried apples are great for school lunches. They are arguably better than fresh apples because they don’t bruise.

Get ready to core your apples

Get ready to core your apples

My older daughter is a very picky eater. Hot lunches at school were out of the question, but it was hard even to find healthy items to include in her school lunch. We first found dried apples at Trader Joe’s. To my surprise, my older daughter loved them. After my husband, who grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, saw them, he suggested we try making them at home, but he suggested we slice them really thinly, and see if we could get them to be crunchy. The Trader Joes dried apples are sort of mushy/spongy.

The first few times, he painstakingly sliced them very thinly by hand, and they turned out amazing! However, the time he spent slicing didn’t seem justified by the amount of dried apples we had to show for his labor. Being rather efficiency-conscious, I pulled out the Cuisinart to see if we could achieve approximately the same results with less effort.

Using the Cuisinart with the standard slicing blade that came with my 12-year old Cuisinart, I was able to make thin, crispy dried apples in very little time. Now, my older daughter, who is also 12, has delicious, nutritious, crunchy dried apples in her lunch. In fact, she often asks me to pack her extra, since her friends always want to share her dried apples.

While we do make them all year, we make them most in the fall when apples are in season, and we can get amazingly fresh (sometimes same-day picked) apples from the local orchard, Blue Jay Orchard.

Push corer through apple. If you're lucky, it will come out in the right place on the bottom!

Push corer through apple. If you're lucky, it will come out in the right place on the bottom!

What you need:

Slicing device — We use a
Cuisinart Food Processor
, but you could probably use a
Mandolin
almost as easily.

Drying device — We use a Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker, but you can use any food dehydrator. Here’s a link to one that I found that got good reviews, American Harvest Snackmaster Express Encore Dehydrator, since I can’t find the one we have online (it’s that old).

Apple Coring device — You can core apples with a knife, I have found, however, that having the right tool cuts down on waste.  I use the Pampered Chef apple corer, but OXO also makes a nice one.

Fresh apples — We like to use Macintosh or Granny Smith, because we like the tartness, but use what you enjoy.

Lining up my apple in my Cuisinart to be sliced

Lining up my apple in my Cuisinart to be sliced

Uniformly sliced apples. You can see that the slices don't have to be paper thin.

Uniformly sliced apples. You can see that the slices don't have to be THAT thin.

How to Do It

Wash apples. I prefer to use larger apples, since there is less waste. Sometimes if I use smaller apples, after I core and dry them, there is only about 1/2″ of apple left in the ring.

Core apples.

Slice apples thinly in whatever slicer you are using. I have tried this by hand, and it is hard to get them thin enough for my satisfaction, but if you’ve never made or had fresh dried apples, and you don’t own a slicer yet, slice them by hand the first time, so you know whether it is worth it to make the investment.

Apples arranged on a shelf of my dehydrator

Apples arranged on a shelf of my dehydrator

Apples shrink a LOT when they are dried. This is the same tray as above, after drying and shrinking.

Apples shrink a LOT when they are dried. This is the same tray as on the left, after drying and shrinking.

Arrange apple slices on each shelf of your dehydrator.

Set the dehydrator for fruit, and let it be. My dehydrator is pretty powerful. I can dry 10 shelves of apples in about 24 hours. As you can see in the photo, I tend to arrange my apples pretty tightly. If your dehydrator takes too long, spread them out more. Since they shrink a lot when dried, you will notice that it gets less crowded as they get dryer.

Apples will not be crunchy when you take them out of the dehydrator. Mine always bend when they are warm, then when they have cooled, they get crunchy.

Store in an air-tight container. We store ours in gallon zip-lock bags.

Enjoy!