The weather here in Northern California is starting to get cold. We had our first rain, and we have made a fire in the wood stove the last 2 nights. The mandarins trees are starting to show a bit of color, and it is time to harvest the rest of the Winesap apples. They sweeten as they stay on the tree, up to a point, but then they start to fall on the ground. So before they drop, I pick them all, and put them in the refrigerator for storage. They will last for a month or more that way. We have a Granny Smith apple tree also, and I leave those apples for at least another month if possible, because late harvest Granny Smith apples have a sweet tart flavor that I have never tasted in a store-bought apple. Here is one of our Granny Smith Apples waiting for the harvest. Why is it in the bag? Because we do not like to spray our apples and apples are a magnet for worms. When I cook with apples I cut out the wormy parts, but I do not like to bite into a wormy apple. So early in the season, when the apples are small, I pick some of the best ones, remove all the surrounding apples so I have a nice defined stem, and tie these bags on the apple. Now those worms can’t get in there, and the apples are protected from sunburn as well. These are special apple bags, but I have used wax paper bags also.
I picked a good-sized basket of Winesap apples and set Adrian to work making his dried apple crisps. This is one of my favorite ways to use apples.
As I mentioned, some of the apples have holes in them. We are organic! (We are also too lazy to spray the organic sprays every few weeks.) That means we slice around the worms. He slices them thinly in a little apple slicer which cores and peels them at the same time. It slices them very thin, which is perfect for drying.
By the way, if you have kids, they love this little device. Adrian spent many of his lunch hours slicing the school lunch apples for the kids in his classroom when he was a teacher. For some reason, they liked the apples better sliced like this. Hey, I am all for whatever it takes to get kids to eat more fruit. This apple slicer is very nice because rather than having a clamp, it has a suction device to hold it to the counter. That gives you more flexibility in where you can use it.
You can get this device from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply which is where we get most of our fertilizers and organic sprays. They also have a variety of home canning and food preservation supplies.
Once the apples have been peeled and cored he cuts them in half and removes any bad slices.
Finally he brushes them with maple syrup, or other sweet syrups such as honey. Sometimes he even brushes them with liqueur like Amaretto. I like them with brushed with maple syrup, then sprinkled with cinnamon. Finally he places them on drying racks in our little table top dryer and plugs it in.
(Update: you can just put them all in a bowl, pour maple syrup over them to taste, then stir them around with your hands to coat them. This will save having to brush each one with syrup by hand).
When the apples have gotten very dry we remove them from the trays. They may be slightly soft when they are warm, but when they cool they should be very crispy. If they are not crispy, let them go a little bit longer. It will take almost a day to dry them. Use the setting for drying fruit on the dehydrator. Ours is set to 135 F.
The finished apples:
To keep them crispy we store them in mason jars with desiccant packages we have saved from other foods, shoes, anything we buy that has a package of desiccant in it. You know..those little bags that say “do not eat”! Just make sure the package will not leak into your food.
These apples are delicious; a tasty treat for kids and adults alike. They are great mixed with some toasted almonds for an afternoon snack. We also add them to oatmeal when we cook it to make apple cinnamon oatmeal without buying that packaged sugary stuff.
Nutrition Note: A recent Dutch study suggested that eating white fleshed fruits and vegetables such as apples may reduce the risk of stroke. Apples contain quercetin, which is a flavonoid, one of the multiple compounds in fruits and vegetables that are antioxidants associated with reducing inflammation and damage to the body that may lead to chronic disease. Apples are also very high in the soluble fiber pectin, which has been shown to reduce absorption of cholesterol and to stabilize blood sugar.
© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.