How to Dehydrate Apples: Savor the Flavor of Fall All Year

Preserve the fall abundance this year by learning how to dehydrate apples at home – with or without a dehydrator.

A single layer of dried apple slices laid out on a dehydrator tray.

Autumn is my favorite season, and our family typically starts off the season with apple picking. Our trees are slowly producing, so we visit local apple orchards to stock up for the season. Last year, I decided to learn how to dehydrate apples as a way to preserve the apples for the season.

Dehydrated apples, often called apple chips, are a healthy, delicious snack that kids love. Not only do they taste great, but dried apples last for quite a long time in your pantry.

Apple chips are an awesome snack for hiking, fishing trips, packed lunches, or having around the house for a quick grab.

Of course, apples are available year-round in most grocery stores in the United States. However, apples go on sale from August to November in most regions. That’s when thousands of orchards open for families to pick the fruits themselves and sell them at a better price (and quantity) than the stores.

So, preserve the flavor of locally picked apples and take advantage of the discounts by learning how to dehydrate apples yourself.

Related: Canning Applesauce: An Easy Homemade Recipe

What Types of Apples Can Be Dehydrated?

A steel pot full of green apples I picked from my backyard.
Truthfully, I often times use the apples in our backyard. I’m not sure the type; my father-in-law planted the tree years ago!

All types of apples can be dehydrated! However, the flavor of the apple matters since that flavor is concentrated with the act of dehydration. If you have a sweet apple, the dehydrated slices will be just as sweet, if not sweeter.

The same goes for tartness.

If you try a variety of fresh apples, you quickly realize that they all have a unique flavor. Dehydration intensifies most flavors, so if you don’t like the fresh apple flavor, you will not like the flavor when dried.

Here are some the best apples to consider for dehydrating.

Tart Flavored ApplesSweet Flavored Apples
Granny SmithHoneycrisp
GalaGolden Delicious
CortlandRed Delicious
GravensteinPink Lady
Goldrush Cortland

Ideally, you want organic apples. Apples belong on the “dirty dozen” list, meaning they typically contain more pesticide residues. If you pick locally, ask the orchard if they spray and what they use. No matter what they say, I highly suggest cleaning your apples thoroughly before dehydrating them.

Related: 23 Early Apple Varieties for Your Backyard Orchard

How to Dehydrate Apples: Step-by-Step

The dehydration process is far easier when comparing the process of dehydrating apples vs. canning apples. It takes fewer steps with less mess.

1. Clean Your Apples

Before dehydrating your apples, start with clean counters and equipment. That always matters; you don’t want bacteria to mess up a batch of yummy dried apple chips!

Start by cleaning all of your apples. I fill up my sink, soak the apples in water, then dry them with a clean towel.

2. Remove the Seeds and Cores

All seeds and the core need to be removed for the dehydration process. I use an apple corer with a spiral cutter for steps two and three together; it’s much easier.

However you can get a simple apple peeler to use, but a paring knife also works. Don’t feel as if you MUST buy something to dry apple slices.

Do You Have to Peel Your Apples Before Dehydrating?

Drying with the peels on or off is a personal preference; there is no safety concern with keeping peels on the fruits.

Consider how you plan to use them. If you plan to use dried apples mostly for snacking, keeping them with the peel on is a fine idea. If you plan to use them for baking or reconstituting for other recipes, I suggest peeling them since the peel may create a unappealing texture.

3. Slice Your Apples Evenly

Dehydrating works best when the fruit in question is evenly sliced. That means all are the same thickness. It’s hard to do this by hand, but it’s possible.

Ideally, you want the slices 1/4 inch thick. Slice the apples into apple rings or thin slices – whatever you prefer! If you like crispy apple chips, thinner works better, and they dehydrate faster when thinner.

If you don’t have an apple spiral cutter on hand, a mandoline slicer will get the job done just as evenly.

Optional: Consider Pretreating to Avoid Burning

Some prefer to pretreat the apple slices to prevent them from turning brown due to oxidation. Oxidizing is not dangerous, but you may find the browning unappealing.

You have several options to retreat, but the most popular choice is equal parts water and lemon juice. Put the lemon juice and water into a pot and submerge the apples for 3-5 minutes. Another option is to use ascorbic acid powder. 1/2 teaspoon of powdered citric acid mixed with two cups of water should be sufficient if you allow your apple slices to soak for 10 minutes.

However, truth be told, I never pretreat my apples before drying. The browned color doesn’t bother me. Either option won’t affect the flavor of the apples.

Optional: Season with Some Cinnamon

Seasoning your apple slices is an optional step. Sprinkling cinnamon over the slices is one of my favorite things because I love cinnamon. If your apples are tart, you may want to sprinkle over a bit of sugar.

Related: How to Make Homemade Apple Butter Recipe for Canning

4. Dehydrate Your Apples

Now, you have finally come to the dehydrating step. Dehydrating apples is easy and a great project if you have yet to dehydrate foods.

I prefer to use a food dehydrator, but if you don’t have one, it’s safe to use an oven for this task. Oven drying is just as easy, making your home smell delicious!

In the Oven

Start by preheating the oven at 150 degrees F, or your lowest oven setting. Put your apples on cooling racks on top of baking sheets. This mimics the air circulation that the shelves in dehydrators allow.

If you don’t have a wire rack, use parchment paper and flip the apples every 30 minutes to one hour to allow moisture to escape each side evenly.

Put the baking sheets into the oven, leave the oven door cracked open to allow moisture to escape, and let your oven dry the apples. This process takes anywhere from 2-8 hours; it varies widely. In some ovens, the drying process only takes 2-3 hours!

Everyone’s oven is different; I know mine never cooks recipes like they tell me it should. It also depends on the thickness of the slices and how much moisture your apples contain. Even the humidity in your home affects the drying process.

Check the apples every hour or so. Once you think they are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Using a Dehydrator

Arrange the apple slices on the dehydrator trays, leaving space between each piece to allow plenty of air to circulate. Ensuring no apples touch is important; a single layer is essential for proper drying.

Then, dehydrate the apple slices at 135 degrees F for 6-12 hours until dried. Some machines need the trays to be rotated occasionally to encourage even drying.

I love the Nesco Food Dehydrator. It’s budget-friendly and gets the job done. Unless you dehydrate daily, I don’t think anyone needs to spend hundreds on a dehydrator!

5. Remove the Apples and Determine if They Are Done

It’s important to check on your dried apples regularly. Typically, a dehydrator can not over-dry the apples, but it is possible for your oven to burn the apples.

You know your apples are done when they are pliable without any remaining moisture. Tear one in half and squeeze; if moisture appears, you know the apples need to dry longer.

Another way to test for dryness is to fold the apple slice in half. If it doesn’t stick together, then it’s dried properly. However, if apples stick together when folded, keep drying them!

Storing Dehydrated Apples Properly

Now that your apples are done, you have to store them properly. If you plan to eat the dried apples within the next few weeks, a simple sealed container or a plastic bag will suffice on the counter.

Just ensure you allow them to cool in the dehydrator or baking sheet completely before storing them. The dehydrated apple slices should be room temperature before storing. Otherwise, it allows moisture to build up in the container, leading to mold.

However, one of the benefits of dehydrating foods is that they have a long storage life. Dehydrated apples last up to a year (or longer), so you want to store your long-term dried fruits as long as possible.

Here is what you need to do.

  • After the apples cool completely, pack them into an airtight container, checking daily for a week for signs of moisture or condensation. They shouldn’t stick to the sides of the jars or each other.
  • Once you are sure they are thoroughly dried, store the apples in a clean, airtight container. I use glass jars, but you can use whatever you like!
  • A vacuum sealer with a jar attachment will help remove the air from the jar, but you also can use a moisture-absorbing packet. The packets are great if you think you’ll open the containers regularly for recipes and desserts.
  • Make sure you label the containers and store them in a cool, dark, dry location, such as inside your pantry cabinet. Easy!

How to Use Dehydrated Apples

Having dehydrated apple chips on hand gives your family a great snack that all ages love. Aside from eating the dehydrated apples just the way they are, here are a few other ways to use them:

  • Add the dried apples to trail mix.
  • Dip the apples in yogurt or peanut butter.
  • Dice them up to mix into warm oatmeal.
  • Rehydrated diced dehydrated apples and add to muffin batter.
  • Simmer in a fall simmer pot.
  • Add to apple cider for an edible garnish.

How to Rehydrate Dried Apples

One of the benefits of dehydrating foods is that they can be reconstituted to be used in your favorite recipes. Rehydrating allows you to use dried fruits in fruit bread, pies, or rehydrated to make dried applesauce!

While I typically preserve apples by making applesauce and apple butter, it is fun to dry apples and have a nutritious snack. You’ll find plenty of ways to use them AND they won’t go bad in your cabinet for months to come.

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