Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nature's Candy

Want a sweet and tasty snack that your kids might even choose over their dwindling bag of Halloween candy? Dry some apples! You will end up with chewy, unbelievably sweet morsels of happiness. You will put a lot of work into them and they will disappear shockingly quickly. But really, the work is well worth it!

Follow along with me as I dry up a big batch myself!

1). Borrow a food dehydrator. You could always buy one if you have cash laying around, but maybe you have a really nice family member like I do who buys lots of food gadgets, and then lets you use them, sometimes for months on end. ;) If the weather is perfect (i.e. it's still mid-summer) and you want to get really rustic, try drying your apples outside on a warm day. Two ideas that intrigue me (and that I may be crazy enough to try with the kids next summer): 
                        *put the fruit on trays on and put them in your car
                        *lay the fruit out on your trampoline on a hot day, covering it with mesh

Let's say that you have a food dehydrator handy, though, and electricity. Here's the one I borrowed:

2). Get your apples ready. I found the most efficient way to get somewhat-uniform apples was this step by step process:
                          *Cut a big old mess of apples up, using an apple corer-slicer. Put a dark colored towel under your workspace; the sticky juice that oozes every time you use the slicer will stain the towel if it's white. Trust me, I know. Make a mountian of apples, and don't worry that some of the apples will have bad spots or mushy yucky parts--you will sort them out as you peel them in the next step. Just keep going, shoving that slicer through the apples like you are on a slicing marathon. Beware: you will get juice everywhere, your hands will get very sticky, and juice will spray into your eyes on multiple occasions.

                              *Wash your hands of all the stickiness so that you are clean and fresh for the next step. Peel each apple segment with your favorite knife. Depending on the size of the apple it came from, you may need to slice the segment in half. Throw all the segments into a big bowl as you go along. You want all the pieces to be somewhat similar in size, but it's not even close to rocket science--they will all dry eventually.

                                    *Dump the segments onto the trays of the food dehydrator and spread them around so that no edges are not touching. No need to be perfect. Though if I do say so myself...mine look spread out pretty perfectly. It was my third batch of apples--what can I say, I'm becoming a natural.

                                     *Dry the apples for the time recommended on the dehydrator. I didn't have a manual to refer to, so I did an internet search, which gave me the very precise time of anywhere between 7 to 24 hours. Since I don't believe in specific times for anything anyway, I just opened the lid and checked the apples every hour or so. After about 8 hours, my apples had a perfect chew to them. You want to avoid getting them so dry they are brittle, but you definitely want all the moisture out of them so that they will keep on your shelf for months.
                                       *Open the finished product right up on the table around a gaggle of children. For some reason leaving the apples in the dehydrator is more appealing than ever. They will dive in on it, peeling each dried apple off the trays to put right in their mouth, and think you are amazing.





If there are some dried apples left, pack them up in airtight containers.
If not devoured, they will stay good through the winter.










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