Apples are among the most popular fruits across the world. They are eaten as part of the main dish, apple pies, applesauce, and also dried apples. Learning how to dehydrate apples is a popular way of preserving them. The main reason for their popularity is that they can be stored for long periods without refrigeration. Dehydrated apples are often eaten as is, or they may be rehydrated with some sort of liquid so that they take on a texture similar to fresh apples.
There are three main ways to dehydrate apples: in the oven, in a dehydrator, and in an air fryer. Dehydrating apples in the oven is straightforward and inexpensive. Dehydrating apples in a dehydrator takes longer than using an oven but can improve the quality of your dried apples and if you want to try a relatively new method you can use an air fryer, especially if you are drying out a small batch.
There are so many varieties of apples that are available in the market that you can choose from. When buying apples, it’s always best to go for the firm and ripe ones. Avoid apples with bruises or brown spots, as they will probably also be bruised on the inside. Press down on the apple gently to check its firmness, avoid any of that are mushy or leave an indent.
Any apple variety will taste delicious when dehydrated, as long as it is fresh. Now, depending on how you like your dehydrated apples to be, sweet or tart, you can choose from the different varieties accordingly.
Sweet Apples: Most people prefer the dried apples to be sweet, in which case they can opt for Fuji, Gala, or Honeycrisp apples. These apples have a higher sugar content and are usually juicy. However, because of the higher water content, they tend to shrivel up a bit when dried.
Tart Apples: These apples have a lower sugar content and are slightly less juicy, which is why they dehydrate better. You can use Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples in the tart apple category.
Apples don’t necessarily need to be peeled for dehydrating. In fact, the skin adds a texture that is appealing when you snack on them, just like chips. If you plan on rehydrating the apples to use them in desserts or maybe to make applesauce, you might want to peel the apples before drying them.
Suppose you do want to peel apples before dehydrating them. In that case, there are several tools available in the market to peel your apples, ranging from a specialized apple peeler and corer to a simple vegetable peeler that you may already have in your kitchen.
The next point of concern is how to cut the apples for dehydrating? Well, once again, it’s totally up to you. You get to decide whether to core or not core the apple, whether to slice it into complete discs or to halve the apples before slicing them.
One of the most important points when dehydrating any kind of fruit or vegetable is cutting the slices evenly to enable them to dehydrate to the same degree. The mandoline is one such tool that will help you in getting these apple slices the same thickness. If you don’t want to use a mandoline, you can just as easily get the apple slices using a nice sharp knife. Just take the time to get the slices evenly cut.
Plenty of times, the apples end up browning when they are cut and left out. The reason for this is oxidation. When the exposed flesh of the apple comes into contact with the air, it causes oxidation which causes the flesh to turn brown and eventually soft and mushy.
There are several tricks to slow down this browning process. Here are some that work best:
Place all your apple slices into a large bowl. Into this bowl, add enough water to submerge all the slices fully. For every cup of water you add, add ¼ teaspoon of salt. Using clean hands, mix all the apples in this solution properly and soak for 10 minutes. When you are ready to dehydrate the apples, drain the water and give them a quick rinse with fresh water to remove any salt residue.
Add all your apple slices to a large bowl and fill with water until they are fully submerged. For every cup of water you add, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. You must use bottled lemon juice since its pH is stable and safer to use. Let the apples soak for 10 minutes and then drain them. Rinse the apple slices with some cold freshwater before using them so that you get rid of any possible lemon flavor.
Another way to slow down the browning is to use citric acid. For every 2 cups of water, add about ½ teaspoon of citric powder. Stir to dissolve the citric acid, and then add in your apple slices. Let them soak for 10 minutes before you remove them and rinse with cold freshwater.
None of the methods above stop the browning process entirely but will help you slow it down. If, after treating the apple slices, you are not ready to use them immediately, transfer them to an air-tight container or zip lock bag and store them in the refrigerator.
Now that your apples are all prepped, you are ready to dehydrate them.
Ovens are a great way to step into the dehydrating world without committing to any fancy equipment.
Air Fryers are an excellent method to dehydrate a small batch of apples quickly. However, you do need to be extra vigilant when using air fryers for dehydrating.
Because air fryers have a significantly smaller capacity, you may have to do the dehydrating process in batches.
A dehydrator is the best option to dry any type of fruit or vegetable if you have it because while it takes longer to complete the process, it requires minimum interference from you. You can simply set and forget about your produce.
Before you pack up your dehydrated apples and store them in your pantry, you must condition them. Conditioning is the process of balancing the humidity level of your dehydrated produce (apples in our case) throughout the container they are stored in to mitigate the possibility of mold growth.
To rehydrate the apple slices, all you need to do is soak them in some liquid. The proportion to use is simple as well; for every cup of dried apples, use one cup of liquid. You can use apple juice or simply water to rehydrate the apples. Heat the liquid of your choice until it just starts to boil and turn off the heat. Add your apples to the hot liquid so that they soak up the liquid much more quickly. Let the apples soak in the liquid for up to an hour, at the end of which you should have rehydrated apples that you can use in your recipe.
Dried apples will feel dry (obviously) and leathery to touch. You can also try to fold the apple slices to check their doneness. If the folded halves stick together, they need additional time in the dehydrator. Another test you can do is cutting the apple slice in half. If you see any moisture bubbles sizzle out, your apple slices aren’t dry yet.
Properly dehydrated apples can last up to 12 months. Store the apples in an air-tight container and in a cool and dark place. If you are looking for more extended storage than this, consider freezing the apples.
Now that you know all there is about dehydrating apples, you are ready to dehydrate yourself! The next time you are at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, pick up an extra bag of apples to dehydrate! If you liked this blog post, you might find some of our other drying guides interesting as well!
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