Friday, November 2, 2012

Dehydrating apples

Apple Update:

We still have lots of apples still to choose from out here on the farm.

Lots of Pink Lady, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Gold Rush, Rome, Cameo and some Melrose if you walk to the far south of the row.

We are guessing apples will be available until sometime around Thanksgiving.

I will have to say I am impressed with you guys.  Last weekend, it was RAINING, and you guys still came out!  A tad crazy I think you all are, but very impressed with the way you just come out and get your picking done.  A brave soul our customers are :)

But the good news is.......This weekend looks like GREAT weather!  Sunny and mild.  Thank goodness for that!

Other Happenings:

I have been playing around with dehydrating apples.  It was my first time and I was surprised how easy it was!

If you are interested in drying apples, here is how I did it:

I decided to experiment with many of the different kinds of apples to see if each variety made a big difference in flavor, how long they took to dry, etc.

First I used my apple peeler/corer to skin and core my apples.  Plus it cuts the apples into even slices.  Very important when you are drying apples because you want the slices to dry at the same rate.  You could do thicker slices too if you were cutting by hand, just try to make the all about the same size. 1/8-1/4" slices are best.

Once they are off the peeler, all I do is cut them in half.  Then I will have moon shaped apple slices.

With the dehydrator I had, it recommended soaking the apples in pineapple juice.  (There were other options too but this seemed the most simple).  You can soak them anywhere from 5 minutes to awhile longer.  I chose to soak for 5 minutes.   I also did a tray of slices that I did not soak in anything.  Honestly there didn't seem to be a huge difference besides maybe turning a bit more brown than the slices soaked in pineapple juice.

Place the apples on the trays.  Very important the slices don't overlap.  Anywhere they overlap, that part will not be as dry as the other half of the apple.  You don't want uneven drying.

You can also sprinkle the slices with cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever spices you like.  I chose not to this time around.

I labeled each tray so I could have a taste test at the end.

I used a NESCO Food Dehydrator.  This one has a fan.  I guess some of them don't?  It took about 6 hours to dry these apples.  A friend of mine has a dehydrator without a fan and it takes overnight to dry the apples on hers.  So there is a big difference in drying time.  Basically it is trial by error and keeping watch to get it just right.

When the apples are done, they will be flexible, not brittle, and not really sticky or wet.
I learned there are 2 ways to tell if the apples are done drying.  The first one is break the apple slice in half and if you can see beads of moisture, then the apple is not dry enough.  Another way is to immediately place some warm apple slices in a bag and look for condensation.  If you see condensation, then the apples are still too moist.  Put back on and dry for longer.  

I also noticed that I need to put the bigger size slices toward the inside of the tray because the fan seems to dry the center apples a little faster than the outside.  

Another batch of apples.

From the directions, it seemed like it was saying I could use the bottom base tray (the one without slots), to dry apples on too.  I don't know I will anymore because they always seem WAY less dry than the other trays. 

Once the apples are dried, store them in ziploc plastic bags.  You can put them in the freezer or just on your kitchen shelf for 6-9 months.  You can also rehydrate the apples to use in muffins, oatmeal, etc by soaking the apple slices in water anywhere from an hour to 2 hours.  Something to experiment with!

Taste testing results: 
 There were differences in the apple varieties.  I liked all of them for sure.  Even better is mixing them all up and putting them in a bag and getting a surprise.

The Fuji, Braeburn, Gala, Jonagold and Ruby Jon had a milder flavor.  The Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Gold Rush had a bit more kick which I liked.  I think my overall favorite was Pink Lady.  It had the most flavor of them all...a tiny bit of tart zing with a mild sweet background flavor.  My husband would say Fuji was his favorite.

No Dehydrator?  You can use your oven!!

If you don't have a dehydrator, I was reading online that you can also dry apples in the your oven.  The slices dried the fastest when you put them on a cookie sheet rack, rather than straight on the cookie sheet but both would work. (You will need to flip the slices if you put them on a cookie sheet)  Set the oven temperature to the lowest heat setting, put in your apples.  Some websites say to close the oven door, some say to leave it slightly open and blow a fan into the oven.  The fan method is said to dry the apples in 2-3 hours and the closed door method is said to take 10-20 hours.  Seems like a big difference, not sure what to believe.  But either way, it is nice to know you don't have to invest in a dehydrator if you don't want to!

If you are a dehydrating veteran and have anything you can teach us, or have a tip or a correction, please leave a comment, email or talk to us at the farm!  


Ashley said...

We've been out twice to get apples in the last month or so. I think we'll be out one more time this year to get some Granny Smiths to make some more applesauce and pies. Great deal on apples!! SO happy we discovered you guys!

Jessica Jessi said...

Wow! Very good tips. I used solar dehydrator. But now I am using a nesco fd 75a. I think nesco fd 75a is the best electronic dehydrator.
Thank you