Scrub your apples well and dry with a towel. Don't throw away any blemished apples. Just cut out nasty spots or bruises and use the rest.
Some people peel the apples. However, most of the fiber and nutrients in the apple are in or just under the peel, so this dramatically decreases the nutritional value of this snack. I leave them on. Sometimes if I'm making a giant batch, I will use my fancy peeler-corer-slicer. If you do peel them, always dehydrate the peels. Just pile them on a tray and flip halfway through. They may take a bit longer than the chips, but you don't waste those nutrients. Once dry, pulse them in the blender and then work them through a sieve for apple powder. This intensely apple-y powder can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or teas.
Quarter them and cut out the cores. Then lay the cut side down and slice the apples 1/4" or thinner, but be consistent in the thickness so your chips dehydrate at about the same speed. If you want to maintain a light, pretty color, spray with lemon juice as you go. If you want to add cinnamon or cinnamon sugar, toss them into a bowl as you cut and sprinkle occasionally and then toss before putting on the trays.
Lay the apple slices onto the trays in a single layer. They can be touching, but don't overlap for even drying. Use little end pieces to fill in gaps to maximize your tray space. If you have a temperature control, set it for 120 degrees. This temperature ensures that even if you forget to check them, they won't burn and it also seems to keep the color a little nicer. If you don't have temperature control, check the apples more frequently to avoid burning. If your dehydrator doesn't have a fan, rotate and rearrange the trays after checking every couple of hours. Check for the first time at 4 hours, and then every hour or two after that (depending on your dehydrator).
Once they feel dry, tear a slice in half. Squeeze firmly and look at the torn edge for any sign of moisture. Eat a slice and see if you detect any moisture. If it seems to be thoroughly dry, put them into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Leave on the counter for 24 hours. If there is any sign of moisture inside the jar, go ahead and pop them back in the dehydrator to finish up. If there is no sign of moisture, it is safe to store in a cool, dry area. By checking them for 24 hours before storing out of sight, you reduce the risk of losing a jar to mold. That being said, I've never once lost a jar of any dehydrated food to mold.
|Gala on the left; Rome on the right.|
Apple chips are a fantastic snack on their own. We love to take a jar or two with us on road trips, especially those made without cinnamon or sugar to reduce mess. They are lightweight so they are perfect for hiking. I send small containers with Trucker for his lunch at work and they are great for adding to trail mix. You can also add them to baked goods or to top cakes. They can be rehydrated and used in pie making or applesauce. You can make a warm apple tea with cinnamon in autumn.
One reader mentioned on Facebook that she dehydrates crab apples for a tart snack. I am planning on trying this fantastic idea and will keep you updated.