Dried apples are a tasty, portable, and healthy snack. Perfect for the lunchbox, or to curb a late morning or afternoon hunger, dried apples are high in fiber, contain no fat or gluten, and have no preservatives or additives. You can also use them in multiple recipes, such as cakes, cupcakes, trail mix, and granola, or as yogurt and ice cream toppings. Plus, unlike dried fruit you might encounter at the supermarket, this recipe contains no sugar.
To ensure the dehydrated version is at its best, use the freshest and most flavorful apples you can find. Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Honeycrisp are perfect for oven drying, but any sweet apple will yield a delicious snack.
This oven-dried apple recipe has few steps but requires almost a full day. Plan ahead because you need to be around to check on the progress.
- 16 apples (washed)
- 8 quarts water
- 1/2 cup vinegar (or lemon juice)
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, it is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and assembly.
Prepare the Fruit
Gather the ingredients.
In a nonreactive bowl, mix the water and vinegar (or lemon juice).
Heat the oven to its lowest setting, usually between 140 F and 150 F.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the apples.
Core the apples with an apple corer or slice each apple into quarters. Cut off the tough center of each piece.
Using a sharp knife, cut the apples into 1/4-inch thick slices. As you slice the apples, drop the pieces into the prepared acidulated water to prevent them from browning. Let the slices soak while you finish slicing the remaining apples.
Drain the apple slices in a colander, letting them sit for 2 to 3 minutes to drain off as much water as possible. If the apple pieces are too moist, they will steam instead of dry in the oven. To remove excess moisture, place the slices on top of a clean kitchen towel and pat dry with a paper towel.
Place cooling racks inside baking sheets and arrange the apples on the racks so the slices are not touching.
Place the baking sheets in the oven. If you don't have a convection oven, prop the door of the oven open with the handle of a wooden spoon to let the steam and moisture escape. Let the apples dry until they are a leathery or crispy texture, depending on your preference; this can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours. If your oven is hotter in some spots than others, turn the baking sheets around occasionally so that the pieces dry evenly.
Once the apples have the desired texture, remove them from the oven. You won't be completely sure if the apple pieces are fully dehydrated until they have cooled. Let the apples cool on the trays for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, tear a piece of the fruit in half. There should be no visible moisture along the surface of the break. If the apple is still soft, return to the oven for a bit longer. Start with 30 minutes and check for moisture again.
Condition the Fruit
Even after the apples are correctly dehydrated there may still be some residual moisture in the fruit that you can't feel. This shouldn't typically be enough to prevent the fruit from being safely preserved and mold-free. You will, however, have a tastier, better product if you "condition" the dried fruit, which ensures that all the pieces are fully dry and contain the same humidity level. This process redistributes the fruit pieces as well as any moisture they may still contain.
Place the dried, cooled apple slices into glass jars, filling each no more than 2/3 full. Cover the jars and shake a couple of times a day for one week. If moisture builds up, re-dry them.
Once your dried apples are conditioned and there's no condensation on the inside of your jar, store them in airtight containers away from direct light or heat. It's okay to fill the jars completely at this point.
What Are Unsulphured Apples?
When dried fruit is labeled in the supermarket as "sulphured" or "unsulphured," it refers to whether or not the fruit has been preserved with sulphur dioxide. This extends shelf life, softens the fruit, and lightens its color. Unsulphured apples, like the ones in this recipe, have not been treated with sulphur dixoide.
How to Store Dried Apples
Store dried fruit in a sealed container in a cool dry place and it should be good for up to a year.
- Although you can leave the apple skin on, it will be sharp-edged and tough once dried.
- Don't discard the peels and cores. They can be used to make apple scrap vinegar, apple scrap jelly, and homemade apple pectin.
- Drying the apples on racks is key because it helps release moisture and stops them from "cooking" and becoming soft.
- If any condensation shows up on the sides of the jars while conditioning the fruit, it isn't dry enough. Place it back into the oven on the lowest setting for an hour or two.