Drying apples is an excellent way to preserve apples for use throughout the long winter months. Once dried, the slices can be stored in an airtight container for many months. Once the moisture has been removed from the apples they can be packed into vacuum sealed bags (no freezer or refrigerator required), sealed in jars using a vacuum sealer attachment to remove the air from the jar, or in heavy freezer zip lock food grade plastic bags in the pantry.
As a little girl, one of my first memories was going to see my grandmother and smelling the delicious odor of apples as they lay out drying on every available surface in her kitchen, on the freezer top, counter tops, and on trays out in the sun. During the winter months she would make apple pies and turn-overs that were such a treat to eat!<br><br>
Freshly picked Apples (almost any variety will do)
An Apple peeler: This can be a manual crank peeler/corer/slicer as pictured below or an ordinary vegetable peeler
An Apple Corer: This hand held device is designed to remove the core of the apple and is used when a manual crank peeler/corer is not used.
A good paring knife: Used to separate the apple rings when using the manual crank peeler or to slice the apples into rings to preparing them for drying.
A bowl: This bowl is used to mix the natural pre-treatments such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with water to help the apples from oxidizing and turning brown. NOTE: The apples will turn slightly even after pre-treatment, so if your apple slices do turn a LITTLE brown, don't worry!
A Large Drying Tray: If using your oven, this would be large cookie sheets lined with parchment paper to keep the apples from coming into contact with the metal of the cookie sheet. If you are using the sun to solar dry your apple slices, this tray can be of wood, plastic or metal (not aluminum), but lining them with parchment paper or wax paper is recommended to protect both the tray and the apple slices.
Thongs: Used to lift the slices out of the pre-treatment solution and onto the drying tray.<br><br>
This inexpensive gadget is designed to peel, core and slice apples and other larger fruit with one motion and can save lots of time when processing apples. It can be used to only peel the apples or to peel, core and slice the apples, depending on what you plan to do.<br><br>
Slide the apple onto the prongs of the crank, taking care to align the center of the apple with the prongs to make it easier for the slicing blade to keep even pressure on the apple as it spins and peels the skin. I find that it is easier for me to align the prongs by placing the apple onto them from the stem end, especially when coring, too, because lining up the corer blade is more difficult than the peeling blade, and the bloom end has better sight advantage when the blade is engaged.<br><br>
Engage the crank release and advance the apple forward to align the apple with the blade. Turn the crank slightly to make sure that the blade depth is slicing through the skin of the apple without digging too much of the flesh from the apple. When you are satisfied that the blade is of the appropriate depth, re-engage the crank release to fit into the groove on the crank shank. Turn the crank to spin the apple, and, as it advances toward the corer blade, slow down to make sure that the corer blade hole is aligned with the blossom end of the apple.<br><br>
Keep turning the crank until the apple has advance through the corer blade and the apple is completely peeled and cored.<br><br>
Gently remove the apple from the crank by sliding it off of the crank end. The apple will be sliced into one long spiral. Remove the core from the prongs and discard, along with the peels.<br><br>
Slice through the apple with the paring knife to form apple rings which are then dipped into the pre-treatment solution to prevent oxidation (the browning of the apple flesh). The apples are now ready to arrange on the drying trays to be dried by either placing the tray into the oven or laying out in the sun to dry.<br><br>
Pre-heat the oven to the lowest temperature (on mine, it is 170 degrees F.)<br><br>
Place the parchment lined tray on the top rack of the oven.<br><br>
The apples may take a couple of hours or more to dry, depending on the ambiant weather conditions. Check the apple drying progress every hour or so and turn the apples to allow both sides to dry evenly. Once the apples are dried thoroughly, remove the tray from the oven and package into air tight containers as discussed above.
To use the dried apples in cooking, rejuvinate the apples with water by soaking the apple rings in clean water for 15 minutes or so until the slices are re-hydrated and use in recipes requiring apples, such as pies, pop-overs, turn overs, and other freshly baked treats.
The dried apples are a great snack that can be added to trail mix or eaten as is.<br><br>