Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dehydrated Apple Slices and a Trick or Two

Sometime ago my husband and I realized that the apples we ate in the summer came from Chile.  This is not earth-shattering news, nor is it something that we werent at least a little aware of, but we finally decided to do something about it.  Now that its apple season here in Indiana.

It pretty difficult to change your snacking ways when there isnt much of anything else that easy to pick up and take on the go.  There are nuts and chips, but there isnt much summer fruit that provides the durability of apples.

We ended up at our Farmers' Market and went back to Wild's Apple Farm where I had first picked up some plums.  We picked up two of each kind of apple and headed home to eat them over the next week in an attempt to determine which we preferred.  Turns out we like some fruit that doesnt really have a name, but a number. It grew on a particular tree in a particular plot in a particular row on a particular orchard in Pennsylvania.  That particular apple never made it to the commercial sector probably because its green and red skin is easily marred.  The fruit beneath the blemish is totally fine so its another full bodied apple that actually taste like APPLE that isnt available to the general public.

One half bushel of our lucky apple later, we were home and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.  We had 20 pounds of apples to store and process before they went bad so I got out my mandolin, filled up the sink, and washed some apples.  We have an Excalibur dehydrator but I had never filled it to capacity, using only a tray here and there , so I didnt actually know how many apples slices would fit at once.  It turns out the machine will fit about 17 medium sized apples which is a pretty good haul.

A few slices into the journey to desiccated apples, I noticed we had a problem.  The slice was getting stuck under the mandolin and wouldnt allow the slice to drop down,causing the next slice to crumble.  I ended up using painters tape on the underside of the mandolin to cover the gap where the produce was getting trapped.  Once I jimmied my slicer, I didnt have any more problems with the apples.
I threw the sliced apples (1/4 inch thick) into a giant tupperware with two tablespoons of lemon juice so they wouldnt brown while they waited for the dehydrator.  Once the tupperware was full, I transported them into the Excalibur* and placed them single file over each of the drying racks.  Then I turned the dehydrator on to 135 degrees and left them until the next morning...about 13-15 hours.  When they were done, they were light, crispy, and delicious.  I stick mine in a plastic bag and throw the bag in the freezer for at least three days.  This time in the freezer stops the formation of any eggs laid on them while drying.  Because the Excalibur is so quick, I dont really think spawning flies from the dried apples is very likely, but I have read some horror stories on other blogs so it pays to be safe and worm free!  Hopefully they will make a great late spring and summer snack next year when all the local apples are gone and the grocery stores are shipping their supplies in from Chile.

*We have our Excalibur in the garage.  Its a bit loud, which I can get over, but it circulates air to dry the items inside so your whole house will smell like whatever is inside the box.  In this case the dehydrator circulates sickeningly sweet apple scent.  I learned this little trick after trying to dehydrate garlic...the entire house smelled like garlic breath - I kid you not!

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