Since I was a little girl, fall was the time of apples drying on our wood stove, if we had one, or in the oven set on low with the door propped open with a canning jar ring. The drying apples filled the house with the sweet smell of warm apples.
My mom would dry cookie sheet after cookie sheet of apples, not seeming to care if the pans were half emptied by us girls (there were six of us) snatching the warm apples off the pans in different stages of dried-ness.
And yet, she still managed to fill five-gallon pails of these dried apples that we would snack on all winter. Even after I was married with my own children, she would pull out the dried apples when we would visit, and my own kids grew up snacking on Grandma’s dried apples. Before many trips she sent us off with gallon-size bags of dried apples. And when we were in Africa, we were always delighted to see the snack show up in flat-rate boxes from her from across the sea.
Now, I’m making my own. The recipe is simple. We don’t worry if the apples turn brown as we make them. That’s the way they were supposed to be- brown, shriveled, chewy. I’ve seen visitors look curiously at the apples when my mom brought them out, but once they tasted one they couldn’t stop eating them.
How to make homemade dried apples
We just slice the apples in fourths or eights and then put them in a warm oven. The recommended dehydrating temperature is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can vary a bit. My oven doesn’t go lower than 170, so I prop it open a bit with a canning jar ring. You can use anything heat proof to do this. This also gives air circulation which aids the drying process.
If you have a wood stove you can put them on top of the stove on a cookie sheet. Place something under the sheet so it is not touching the wood stove. My mom always used canning jar lids under her cookie sheets. If your stove is very hot, you might want even more distance than that.
It takes about 6-8 hours in a gas oven (maybe longer depending on thickness). If you’re using a wood stove, it will depend on the temperature. For long-term storage, you’ll want most of the moisture gone.
After they’re done, we’re left with 100% organic apples- nothing else added because nothing else is needed. If you have surplus apples this fall, I highly recommend trying out this simple homemade dried apple idea. I know you’ll love it.