52 Homesteading Skills in One Year – Project #6: Learning to Dry Fruit
Please tell me I’m not the only one…Have you ever excitedly gone to the store and bought yourself a shiny new kitchen gadget – and then – NEVER used it.
That’s the story of my dehydrator. I purchased it five years ago with the idea that I was going to save money by drying my own fruits and vegetables. It never happened.
Sometimes trying new things just feels like too much effort. You’re not really sure if it is going to work or how much time will be involved. But this is one project I really shouldn’t have shelved into the back of my kitchen cupboards. This has to be the easiest homesteading skill of all – the ancient art of drying food.
So this week I dusted off my dehydrator and even found the accompanying instructions. Well, kind of. There is a big hole in the instructions where it actually tells you how to use the machine. Thankfully, there is nothing complicated about drying apples.
One of the reasons I always wanted to dry my own fruit is because of the added sulphites and sugar often found in pricey store bought versions. You don’t have to worry about that when you make your own – and you’ll save money.
This is the time to buy your apples in bulk and in season when they are cheapest. Once dehydrated, you can enjoy them at any time of the year for much less than what you’d pay in the off season. You could save even more in the future by planting your own apple tree this fall. More on this in an upcoming post.
Use an apple peeler to core, cut and remove the peel from your apples. You can purchase one for less than $15. Trust me. If you don’t have one, it is totally worth the few bucks.
Dip each apple slice into lemon water to prevent the apples from browning. Simply mix 1/8 cup of lemon juice in two cups of water.
Arrange the apple slices evenly on the drying trays. The apple slices will shrink so they can be touching slightly. Sprinkle the apple slices with your favourite seasoning. Turn them over and sprinkle again. I used a mix of 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice and a pinch of cloves.
Plug in your machine and enjoy the delicious baked apple aroma. Approximately 24 hours later you will have a sweet and crispy treat that will last in your cupboard forever. But that won’t happen.
I had to risk my life to protect these apple rings so I could get a picture of them for you before my family devoured them all. You’ll find the apple rings are even more flavourful than the apple itself and make a great fall snack.
To be honest, I was trying to make soft and chewy apple rings, but I left them in the dehydrator too long. If you think you’d prefer a more raisin like consistency, your apple rings may be ready in about 12 hours. The exact amount of time will vary depending on the type of apple you use and the thickness of your slices.
Store your rings in airtight containers away from light. You may want to choose a secret hiding spot so little and maybe even big hands can’t easily find them. Enjoy!