I love eating fresh produce during harvest time, but I also enjoy processing the rest to meet my family’s needs during the rest of the year. A good and easy way to preserve apples for long term storage is by drying or dehydrating them. Dried foods are ideal because they do not require refrigeration, they are lightweight, and take up a small amount of space.
Because of the high humidity in the part of Texas where I live, I do not dry the apples outdoors; instead I dry my apples indoors using a modern food dehydrator that I got at a local second-hand store.
My daughter helped me to dehydrate some apples a couple of weeks ago that we bought on sale at our local grocery store. We sliced the apples making sure not to use the apple core or seeds.
Since apples have a tendency to discolor and darken during storage and drying we pretreated them. To pretreat them, we dissolved one tablespoon of citric acid powder into one quart of water. Then we put the sliced fruit into this solution for two minutes.
Afterwards we placed the fruit on the dehydrator trays. Depending on the humidity it takes about 24-36 hours for the apples to dry. Dried apples should not be dehydrated to the point of brittleness. Instead apples should be dried to the point where you are not able to squeeze any moisture out of it. Also dried apples should remain pliable, but should not be sticky.
After dehydrating the apples allow them to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before packaging to avoid moisture build up inside of the closed container. I store my dehydrated apples in sterilized, dry canning jars with a tight-fitting lid or plastic storage containers with lids. I then place the container in a cool, dry, dark area (my pantry). I check the dried apples often in the pantry to make sure that the apples are still dry and that no moisture is seen on the inside of the canning jar. If I do see moisture I will need to use the apples immediately or redry them. If I ever see mold I know to discard the food immediately.
I use the dried apples in the winter as a snack and I also add them to cereal, oatmeal, muffins or salad.