So my husband bought me a dehydrator the other day…
In a time when most women are appalled at the thought of their guy giving them a kitchen appliance, mine knows that’s just about the coolest thing he could give me (aside from the opportunity to cook with Mario Batali or hang out with Anthony Bordain for a day…)
As a dehydration newbie, I didn’t want to jump out of the gate with a jerky or anything complicated. I’m content to use up this monster pile of apples I somehow acquired and the last two bananas that are clearly on their way out.
Here’s how to make straight-forward apple chips at home using a dehydrator. It’s so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done this yet!
Keys to successful dehydrating:
- remove the peels – they’re tough and won’t dry properly with the fruit. It’s not that you can’t keep them, it’s just that it will make a wonky looking/texturally weird end product.
- uniform slices – this ensures everything cooks at the same rate. Otherwise some will be dry and crisp, while others are still soft and chewy.
- time – there’s no rushing this process, so don’t expect to do it in a hurry.
When it comes to apples, I like to use a vegetable peeler to run along the outside of the apple. I can usually remove the peel in one piece too! It’s faster than breaking out one of those corer-peeler-slicer contraptions and doesn’t hack too much into the fruit the way doing it with a paring knife can (depending on your skillz, of course).
Now to decide how to get slices. The core needs to be removed so you have two options. Slice the apple in half, then do “V” cuts into the halves to remove the core. This works fine, but isn’t my preferred method.
I like to cut the core out this way:
Then slice each section into even pieces. Just do the best you can! Mandolins can work, but given how small the apple sections are, it might be more headache than its worth.
At this point, if you’d prefer to toss the apple slices in lemon juice, do it. I prepared half the batch with lemon, half without. I noticed that the lemon-apples had a slightly better taste and, of course, don’t oxidize as quickly.
Then just arrange the slices on the trays, leaving a little bit of space in between.
Now, you just have to stack up the trays and set the temperature and timer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dehydrators are kinda like slow cookers and tend to vary from brand to brand. Be sure to follow what yours indicates is the right time for apples (and bananas if you’re doing them too).
Bananas are prepared the same way, and just require a bit longer cooking time to fully dry out. I like my bananas a little chewy, so I don’t dry them all the way to crisp. Definitely make them to your preference!
We are having a very warm fall here in the Pacific Northwest and gnats are going bonkers as a result! Drying the fruit hypnotized them and I swear, brought the little suckers from the neighborhood to my kitchen. To combat that, I set out small dishes of apple cider vinegar (just the cheap stuff!) with a drop of regular dish soap. The vinegar is stronger than the fruit, so it’s an effective decoy from my beautiful chips-in-progress. The drop of dish soap helps prevent a film from forming over the top. This way once a gnat lands, it can’t get back out!
Don’t have a dehydrator? Here are three options to check out:
1. The Mac Daddy of Dehydrators: Excalibur
It’s high speed! 9 trays, 15 square feet of drying space and has an automatic shut off timer so you don’t have to worry about it running longer than 26 hours. It’s Amazon Prime qualified, which means shipping is free for Prime members.
Sale price: $241.50 (per my check 11/5/14)
2. Professional Quality at a Reasonable Price: Waring
This one includes a “fruit roll up” sheet for making homemade fruit leathers — genius! 5 interlocking trays, 4 star rating and it’s on sale. This one gets my vote!
3. Budget Buy with Nifty Add-Ons: Nesco
The base unit a great price and offers cool add-on items like sheets for making fruit leathers and “Clean a Screen” liners that are flexible to easily peel away stickier items. They’re great for drying small items like fresh herbs, as well. Tons of potential with this unit; everything is at an affordable price.
Sale price: $34.99 (per my check 11/5/14)