I have always loved drying the fruit harvest and with little kids we consume more of these goodies than ever. It’s a healthy, naturally sweet snack that you can munch away on without worrying about additives. And drying fruit doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time or money. A bulky dehydrator can tuck away in a closet when not needed and they are easy to find second hand. You can also use the stove on a very low heat setting.
Currently we are working on batches of apple chips, which are a little different than the more traditional apple rings. Rings are thicker and chewier. Basically, if you try to cut an apple as thin as you can with a kitchen knife, that’s about the right thickness to make chewy rings.
The trick to perfect apple chips is to cut them paper thin so they dry completely through, breaking apart when you bite into them. And the only way to get that paper-thinness is to use a mandolin slicer.
Prices for mandolin slicers range from $15-100+ bucks. The more expensive models are made from metal, have adjustable thickness settings and include additional safety features. Mine is a cheap, plastic model that does the trick just fine. It cuts very thin slices and the blade is very sharp.
The biggest drawback to using a mandolin slicer is trying to keep your fingertips in tact. Use a corer to get the center out, leave the fruit unpeeled, then use the food holder as you slice back and forth on the mandolin. That prevents your fingertips from reaching the blade. You will most definitely lose some skin if you aren’t extra, extra careful.
Use a naturally sweet apple, like Golden Delicious, to make apple chips. The sweetness of the fruit eliminates the need to add sugar. I do not add lemon juice to preserve the color either. It changes the flavor and is an unneeded step. We just slice them up thin and fast, then place in a single layer directly on the dehydrator trays.
Dry them at 135 degrees for two hours, then check them for doneness. If they are not completely dry, flip all of the rings. That will get them nice and crispy on both sides. Our chips take about 3-4 hours total to be perfectly crisp.
Remove the chips from the trays and let them cool fully. They will get a little more crisp once cooled. I then store them in an airtight container on the counter, so we see them easily as we comb the kitchen for snacks. The absence of moisture in the fruit is what prevents mold from forming, so they should last at least six months – often longer. Enjoy!