Apple chips are a great delight and they are simply dehydrated apples, a process you can do in your own home each fall and enjoy apple chips all year round. We use our Apple Peeler Corer Slicer to turn out as many apple slices as our dehydrator will hold.
Where to Buy Apple Chips in a Crunch
If you do not have a system for making your own apple chips, there are a number of options for buying apple chips. You can find them locally at a gourmet grocery store or you can shop from a number of vendors online.
When buying apple chips online, we like this option because you get a little more “crunch” in your apple chip than you are able to get in a home dehydrator. (They are organic and well-priced to boot.)
When dehydrating your apples, keep these steps in mind:
- When you find an apple variety that dries well and keeps an excellent flavor, make note of it. Not all varieties are best for drying.
- Peel and slice your apples taking care to slice each piece somewhat uniformly. If your apples are different thicknesses, they will need different amounts of time to dry and you will find yourself sifting through your slices and adding to your own kitchen time.
- Place them on a flat surface, nearly touching. The easiest option is to put them in a food dehydrator, but you can sun dry them if you can protect them from birds and other pests.
- Your apples may dry in as little as 24 hours if you have a thin slice and are using a dehydrator. It may take a day or two longer in your own environment.
- The apples are dehydrated when they are leathery but not damp.
Finding the Right Apples for Apple Chips
If you are an apple lover, you probably have your favorite varieties of apple already. Try drying a few of those as a tester. Most apples that have great flavor and plenty of sugar will make a good dehydrated apple choice. Give your dried apple slices 24 hours before you make a final decision. For some reason, the flavor of a dried apple is more developed several hours out of the dehydrator than when just finished in the dehydrator.
Keep in mind that if you find any apple to be low on flavor, it will not make a good dried apple slice. In addition, if the flavor is good but the sugar is low, pass it by. Such an apples will probably make a great cooking apple, not a dehydrated one.
Ask Farmers and Friends
Apple growers, who sell by the roadside and offer several selections, can give you great apple information. Ask which of their offerings will dry well. Apples vary so much by location that even the same variety in one part of the state may dry well but not be a good candidate in another part of the state. A good tactic is to quiz local homemakers who dry apples and have probably descended from local homemakers who did the same thing. If such people are not handy, contact your county Extension Agent. They usually have this sort of wisdom available.
We have used two apples that bring in dynamite results: Gala and Empire. Both varieties yield intense flavor. The Gala slices are so sweet that they taste as if they have had sugar added to them. The Empire slices are sweet-tart which is reasonable given that the empire apple is a combination of the sweet Delicious and the tart Macintosh.
Using Your Dehydrated Apple Chips
Get started with dehydrating apples and you could really get hooked. Each apple variety has its own unique flavor when dehydrated so the hunt for yet one more hard-to-find apple variety is forever on. At some point you must ask yourself what you are going to do with the mountain of dried apple slices you have created. No problem! You obviously love apples and apple flavors. No doubt, you will find and invent ways to use your stash. Here are some starter suggestions:
- Carry a small container of dried apple slices on every day-long or longer trip. They make a satisfying snack with no mess to clean up. The “no mess” is especially pertinent if you have children along for the ride.
- Mix your dried apples with dried cranberries, walnuts and almonds for a super trail mix. Bag a bit of it for box lunches. Use it for a mid-morning pick-me-up.
- Chop up your slices into bits to add to pancakes, muffins, quick breads. It is a good idea to soak the apples bits in warm water for 15 minutes or so to hydrate them before adding to the batter. If you need additional liquid in your batter, use the soak water. It is carrying some intense apple flavor. Your dried apple bits will also impart a more intense flavor to your baked goods than if you used fresh apple.
- Use dried apple slices in making fried apple pies. Dried fruit is traditionally used in fried pies because fresh fruit brings too much moisture to the project, causing the pies to come apart at various points in the handling process. Fresh fruit moisture will also seep through the crust causing sogginess. Use your dried apples and keep those pies crisp!
- Chop up the apple slices a bit and add to your favorite cooked cereal at the beginning of the cooking process. You might also add a few raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Sweeten with maple syrup. Garnish with a plop of butter and you have a great breakfast treat.
- If you make your own granola, add some finely chopped dried apple to the mix.
- Try our apple crisp tea:
- Simmer 12 dried apple slices, one cinnamon stick, and a 2-inch strip of lemon peel in four cups of water for 30 minutes.
- At the end of the 30 minutes add 4 3-inch cuttings of lemon balm and let the tea brew for 10 minutes.
- Strain into three cups and sweeten with honey.
- Put a slice or two of apple into each cup for visual interest. A spring of fresh lemon balm as a garnish over the side of the cup is also a nice touch. Keep in mind that the simmered apple slices will carry little flavor. The flavor is now in the tea. The flavor is bright and complex, rather familiar and comforting. This makes a fine dessert tea or one to have as an afternoon snack with cheese and crackers.