As soon as the weather turns cooler, our family starts dreaming of apples. Autumn wouldn’t be complete without our annual family pilgrimage to the local apple orchard. We’ve been visiting the same farm since I was my daughter’s age. My own children each made their first visit before they could walk.
We wait for that perfect autumn morning, when the air is crisp and misty. We bundle up in our sweaters and pile into the car early to be among the first in line for the tractor ride into the orchard.
There we fill our bushel baskets until they overflow with perfect, crisp apples. We tend to pick a mix of golden delicious and galas since they’re both good for snacking and baking alike. Nothing tastes quite like that first bite of an apple, standing right in the orchard.
Once our baskets are filled to the brim, we hoist them onto the tractor-trailer for the trip back to the barn. Mugs of steaming cider and hot apple donuts are just as much a part of the orchard experience as the apples themselves.
Of course, the orchard is only half of the story. The rest of the fun unfolds over the next few months — apples keep well for quite a while with proper storage. We’ll make all manner of pies and sauces and, of course, apple chips.
Aside from eating the fruit fresh, apple chips are one of the simplest ways to celebrate our apple bounty in its purest form. They’re a healthy, portable snack that the children adore eating and are so easy to make that I welcome the help.
A food dehydrator makes quick work of the project. Our Excalibur 5-Tray Food Dehydrator produces perfect, delicious apple chips in about 7 hours. It’s so easy to use — simply arrange the sliced apples in an even layer in each tray; adjust the temperature and turn the unit on. Set it before bed and wake up to delicious apple chips for the lunchbox or even to top your oatmeal.
To ensure even drying, I recommend using a mandolin for consistently thin apple slices. I love my Cuisipro Handheld Mandoline, which features a sharp, adjustable blade (I set mine to “2” for apple chips) and stores completely flat when not in use. I don’t bother peeling or even coring the apples first. The core and seeds fall away as soon as the fresh fruit is sliced and the peel adds a ring of beautiful color and healthy fiber to the finished chips.
It’s also helpful to have a large, sturdy cutting board to accommodate all of those apples during slicing. I love this gorgeous and spacious walnut one from John Boos. I’m able to lay all of the chips out for a quick dusting of cinnamon just before placing them in the dehydrator. I’ve also tried grated Parmesan cheese for a savory touch. Next I think I’ll try a mix of cayenne and sea salt or even curry powder for an exotic treat. Apple season has just begun and our bushel is full of possibilities.
- 5 Medium size apples
- 1 tbsp Ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
- Slice apples width-wise to ¼ inch thickness using a mandoline.
- Dust apple slices evenly with ground cinnamon (or another topping as desired).
- Arrange apples in an even layer on plastic liners in each of the five trays of a food dehydrator.
- Set dehydrator temperature to 135 degrees F and dehydrate for approximately 7 hours or until apple chips are completely dried.
- Store in an airtight container.