Dehydrate Apples Without a Dehydrator
Crispy Apple Chips make a healthy and easy snack. This post gives instructions on how to dehydrate apples without a dehydrator.
We eat ALOT of apples in our home, easily complying with the ‘apple a day’ admonition. Accordingly, it seems I don’t walk into the grocery store without walking out with a bag of apples. Sometimes, I end up with more than we can eat before they start getting soft or wrinkly.
To reduce kitchen waste, I try to use those apples that are past their prime by using them in baking, making applesauce, or dehydrating them.
Lately, I’ve been dehydrating them, as we like to take them with us when we travel. I have a food dehydrator built into our Breville Smart Oven, but it is quicker to do a large batch in the oven when I have large quantities. Whether you don’t have a dehydrator or if you have a lot of apples to dry, you’ll be glad to know that it is very easy to dehydrate apples without a dehydrator.
And I’d be remiss to not mention that our forefathers dried apples for hundreds of years without ovens or dehydrators, using just the sun. That is certainly an option, but you need a stretch of sunny, low humidity days, you need to bring them in at night to avoid dew, and you need to shield them from critters that may want to eat them. But, if you are feeling all Ma Ingalls, then go for it!
It is so easy to make dehydrated apple chips. A few minutes with a mandoline, and then the oven does all the work. Sprinkle a little cinnamon, and your kitchen will smell delightful during the process! It really couldn’t be easier.
What Type of Apple is Good For Dehydrating?
I buy a lot of Pink Lady apples, so I dry a lot of Pink Lady apples, and I can attest that they dehydrate very well! They generally hold their shape without shrinking.
That being said, all apples can be dehydrated. Bear in mind that the tartness or sweetness of an apple will be concentrated during dehydration, though surprisingly, I find Granny Smith apples seem a little sweeter after dehydrating. A sweet apple will dehydrate and taste like candy without any added sugar! And an apple with high moisture content, think Cortland, Empire, McIntosh, and Red Delicious, will probably shrivel more than a crisper apple.
I don’t think there is one apple variety that can claim to be the best apple for dehydrating; it is truly a personal preference. Just use your favorite apples, as they are the ones you most likely purchase most frequently!
And don’t hesitate to use slightly wrinkled, less than fresh apples for dehydrating. That’s what I primarily use, and they turn out fine. It’s a great way to use them instead of tossing them.
How to Prevent Apples from Browning
Simply tossing your apple rings in a bowl of water with added lemon juice or citric acid before laying them on the drying sheets will prevent them from browning during the dehydration process.
How Long do Dehydrated Apples Last?
Assuming they don’t get eaten in the first week if stored in an airtight container, your dehydrated apple slices will last about six months. But can be stored longer in the freezer. Please put them in an airtight container in the freezer for longer storage. Don’t hesitate to pop them back in your 150° oven to crisp them up again.
How Crisp do Dehydrated Apples Get?
Whether you dehydrate apples without a dehydrator or with a dehydrator, you can get your apple slices as crisp as you want them. I like them potato chip crisp, but you may like them a little chewier. The secrets for the crispest apple slices are simple; slice them no thicker than 1/8″ and keep them in the oven for at least four hours. I use my low-tech mandoline for my thin slices.
After four hours, take one out and let it come to room temperature before you bite it or break it. If it still bends rather than breaks, pop it back in for another 30 minutes or so. The good news is that you really can’t ‘overcook’ your apple slices.
How to Use Dried Apples
We primarily use them for snacks. They make an easy snack when traveling; we will be taking them on the plane with us this weekend.
But, they are also good chopped up in granola, on yogurt, and in bread.
Make homemade applesauce using a 1:4 ratio of dried apples(in small pieces) to water.
Dehydrate Apples Without a Dehydrator
- 4 cups of Water
- 1 teaspoon Citric Acid or 4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Cinnamon or Nutmeg (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 150° (if you have a convection oven, use that setting)
- Wash apples well.
- In a large bowl, mix citric acid or lemon juice with the water.
- It is up to you whether or not to slice your apples. I never do, but we primarily use them for snacking. If you want to preserve your apples for baking, you might decide to peel them.
- Core and cut your apples into thin slices, 1/8" thick. I have a coring tool that is handy if you core apples regularly, but a sharp knife will work as well. And I use my mandoline to slice my apples.
- Put your slices in the citric acid/lemon water mixture and let them soak for 5 minutes.
- Place the sliced apples in a single layer on cooling racks, like a wire rack you use to set cookies on when they are cooling. I have one rack with small gaps that is perfect for dehydrating apples. But my other racks have larger spaces that the apples can fall through. I will layer some of the others, which makes the gaps smaller.
- If you want to sprinkle some spices over your apples, now is the time to do that.
- Place apple slices in the oven. If you are baking two sheets at once, make sure that your oven racks are several inches apart, though neither of them should be right at the bottom or right at the top. At the end of the day, you want as much airflow as possible.
- Stick a folded potholder at the top of the door when you close it so that the oven door doesn't close all the way. An inch of space is fine. This allows any moisture to escape from the oven and increases airflow.
- Let your apples dry for 4 hours or 3 hours with a convection setting. At this point, they should be dry and crispy. Take one from the oven and let it cool before deciding if it is as dehydrated as you want. If not, let them go another half hour or hour. It is tough to 'overcook' your dehydrated apples.
- Once cooled to room temperature, store your dehydrated apples in an airtight container. You can always 'refresh' them in the dehydrator if they become less crisp after storing.