It’s apple season, and I finally got to go apple picking this past weekend. (I didn’t have any luck finding a good place to go apple picking when we lived in South Korea). We had a great time! We ended up with two bags of apples. I wanted to preserve as many as possible.
Why bother preserving them? I read a very interesting article written by Kristen, the Food Renegade that disclosed the truth about the apples you buy at the grocery store. Apparently the average supermarket apple is 14 months old. Yuck. Apples are treated with chemicals to keep them in cold storage for long periods of time. After a year in cold storage there are hardly any antioxidants left. Nutritionally speaking what is the point in eating an apple other than getting fiber? I like to get more bang out of my buck.
So what is the solution? I am not sure yet. I definitely don’t buy apples as often as I used to. There are plenty of other delicious melons and berries that are “in season” during the summer months, the very time frame most apples sold at the grocery store are older.
Preserving apples is one possible solution. Dehydrating is a method of food preservation I am in the process of learning. After a few tries I came up with a pretty good method for making apple chips. I am hoping to make a lot of these in the next few weeks, while apples are still fresh.
Dehydrating is not perfect, some nutrients are lost. However, at least there will be some antioxidants left 3-12 months later. If you buy apples locally during apple season then they are probably fresh. (By local I mean farmer’s markets). The best way to know for sure if to pick them yourself, (which is what I did).
I have made apple chips with “older” apples from the grocery store and the end product is not as good. I sent some FRESH apple chips with my husband to work today and he told me they were really good. (That is a big compliment coming from him, he is not usually enthusiastic about the healthy snacks I make). These are really delicious!! I hope you enjoy them.
Step 1 – Find some fresh apples. The fresher they are the better. I dehydrated the first batch the day after we picked our apples. (I used Cortland apples. I am not sure how much difference this makes in the final product but they dehydrated well).
Step 2 – Wash your apples. I used a vinegar and water rinse.
Step 3 – If they are not organic apples then you should peel them. (Non-organic apples are on a list known as the “dirty dozen“, which means a lot of pesticides are used to grow them if they are not organic). I used organic apples, so I skipped this step.
Step 4 – Remove the cores and cut the apple in half. (This is where it gets tricky. I only cored and cut 2 apples at a time because I did not want my apple chips to brown. After I had the slices from the 1st batch spread on the tray I came back to this step for the next 2 apples).
Step 5 – Slice the apples into 10 mm slices. I used the food processor to do this. I found that if I interlocked them in the food processor feed they sliced better. (See picture).
You can slice them by hand if you have a steady hand. It is hard to get your slices the same size though. A mandolin is another option for slicing.
Step 6 – (Optional). Dip the apple slices in a lemon juice solution. I didn’t measure it but it was approximately a mixture of half lemon juice, half water. This prevents the apple chips from browning.
Step 7 – Spread the apple slices evenly on your dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 135F for approximately 8-9 hours.
(The time will vary according to the humidity in the air. The way to know the chips are done is to drop one on a bowl and if you hear a ping it is done. I know, not very scientific but that is what many online references say to do. You could weigh a few apple slices before and after dehydration and see if the percentage of water loss is consistent with the amount of water loss recommended for apples. But the ping test seems to work well.
If you don’t have a dehydrator there are ways to dehydrate fruit in the oven but I have not tried this yet.
Not all dehydrators are expensive. The dehydrator I used when I lived in South Korea cost me around $30.00 and it worked fine. (Here is one listed on Amazon for a similar price). However, I was limited in how much I could dehydrate at a time.
I am not sure how long my dehydrated apple chips will last in storage. I have read that if I store them properly they should last a year. I do have a Food Saver, so I placed the apple chips in a glass mason jar and vacuum packed it using this accessory. I might have to keep a handful in a small vacuum packed mason jar just to see if they are still good next year, (as an experiment).
If the apple chips do last then I may have one way of solving the apple dilemma. Old apples devoid of most nutrients are just not appealing.
How do you preserve apples each season? Did you know how old apples are at the grocery store?