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Dehydrating Apples for Easy Homemade Apple Chips

Dehydrating apples is a great way to preserves apples without canning or freezing. Plus, homemade apple chips are a fraction of price of store bought chips. We include tips to prevent browning, fun flavor ideas, and safe storage instructions.

easy homemade apple chips

How to Dehydrate Apples

First we'll start with an overview of dehydrating apples with a food dehydrator. Then we'll get into more details and talk about oven drying and air drying.

  1. Prep your fresh apples by slicing and pretreating.
  2. Load your apples on the dehydrator trays, allowing space between slices for air circulation.
  3. Dry at 135ºF (57ºC) overnight or until fruit is dry and leathery.

Which apples are best for drying?

I've never had a bad dried apple, but some work better than others. Apples with a high moisture content tend to shrink up more during dehydrating.

Some of top apples recommended by Minnetonka Orchards include:

  • Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Kidd's Orange Red – for dry apple slices that hold their shape
  • Fuji, Gala, Cortland – for sweetness
  • Granny Smith, Braeburn, Zestar – best tart apples

Apple varieties that naturally resist browning include: Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Opal, Shizuka, and Snowsweet.

apple picking at an organic orchard
Apple picking at an organic orchard.

Prepping Apples for Dehydrating

Do you need to peel apples before drying? That's up to you to decide.

Apples take a little longer to dry with the peels on, but the peels add color, fiber, and texture to the fried fruits.

Sometimes we use a hand crank apple peeler and slicer for making apple rings, so peeling takes no extra time at all. Other times we prep with a paring knife, so peeling would take extra time.

boy peeling and slicing apples
Prep your fresh apples by slicing and pretreating.

Note: the crank peeler/slicer doesn't work well with soft apples, so you may want to use those for homemade applesauce instead.

We like to cut our apples around 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. If you make the slices too thick, they can have trouble drying in the center.

How do you keep apples from browning when dehydrated?

Apples turn brown for the same reason metal rusts – exposure to oxygen. When you slice, you trigger biochemical reactions that make your apples look not so great over time.

The simplest way to avoid browning is to dip your apples slices in lemon water. I make lemon water by mixing 1 part lemon juice with one part cold water. For instance, one cup of juice and one cup water.

Soak your apple slice in lemon water for a few minutes before loading them on the drying trays. If you like, you can lightly oil the trays so the apples come off more easily when dry.

We like to top off the slices with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, but you can leave them plain.

sprinkling cinnamon sugar on apple slices
Sprinkling cinnamon sugar on apple slices before dehydrating

If you want a sweeter dehydrated apple, dip the slices in pineapple juice or orange juice. Cranberry juice and 7-up soda are other options for flavored apple chips.

Don't have any fruit juice? Use 1 tablespoon salt or apple cider vinegar to 8 cups of water to prevent browning. Or dissolve a 500 mg vitamin C tablet in a cup of water for dipping.

apples loaded on dehydrator trays
Load your apples on the dehydrator trays, allowing space between slices for air circulation.

Loading the Apples in the Dehydrator

I like to use the mesh inserts for my dehydrator trays, as they make it easier to unload the dried fruits when they're done.

When you load the trays, make sure to allow a little bit of space between the sliced apples for good air circulation.

Place the trays in the unit and set the temperature to 135ºF (57ºC). I have an Excalibur and a Snackmaster dehydrator. Both work well, but the Excalibur dries a little faster.

fresh apple slices in Excalibur dehydrator
Fresh apple slices in Excalibur dehydrator

How long do you dry apples in a dehydrator?

Apples should dry in 10 to 12 hours. We usually load the dehydrator late in the afternoon or after supper and let it run overnight.

Don't worry about getting the apples too dry. Less moisture means crispier apple chips and longer shelf life.

dehydrated apple slices
Dry at 135F overnight or until fruit is dry and leathery

How do you know when the apples are done?

When they're done dehydrating, most apples will easily snap in half. Some apple varieties stay more spongy, like commercial dried apples.

Note: In humid weather, dehydrating apples takes longer than in dry weather, so plan accordingly.

If you think your apples are dry but they still seem a little soft, try this easy trick to check for dryness.

Put the dried slices in a mason jar and screw the lid on tight. Check the underside of the lid daily for several days, looking for moisture drops.

If you don't see any moisture, shake the jar, and check again the next day. If you find condensation, get those apples back in the dryer.

By day 3-4, if you don't have any moisture, your apples should be safe for long term storage.

Dehydrated apples in Excalibur dehydrator
Dehydrated apples in Excalibur dehydrator

Storing Your Dried Apples

Store your dried apples in an airtight container in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. Date and label the container.

Properly dried, they should easily keep for year, assuming they don't disappear into tummies. You don't need to store them in the refrigerator or freezer.

For longer storage, I pack my dried apple slices in mason jar and seal them with a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealed jars keep out moisture and oxygen, so your apples should easily last 2-3 years.

cinnamon sugar apple chips
Cinnamon apple chips in Snackmaster dehydrator

How to Dehydrate Apples in the Oven

If you can set your oven temperature low enough, you can dehydrate apples in the oven.

Set the oven temperature to warm (140F) and prop the door open a few inches to allow moisture to escape. You can place a fan near the door to increase air movement.

Place the apple slices on cooling racks that you set on baking sheets. Dry the apples for 2 to 3 hours.

Check on the apple slices after one hour. Flip them for even drying, and remove any that are done. Check again at the 2 hour mark, and so on.

You can also dehydrate apples in a solar oven. Just make sure to prop the lid open a small amount so the moisture can escape. Check the apples every hour or two, and rotate the oven as needed.

Air Drying Apples

If you live in a dry climate or have a wood stove, you may be able to air dry your apples. You can place apple rounds on wooden dowel (not touching) or use a mesh drying rack.

Hang the dryer outside and let the sun and wind do the work, or hang it near a wood stove to soak up the heat.

Air drying may take several days, depending on conditions.

Recipes for Dried Apples

Enjoy your dried apples as snacks, or crumble them into oatmeal, granola, or yogurt. Some recipes call for dried apples, like this vintage dried apple pie.

To rehydrate, cover your apples with hot water or apple juice. Let apples soak until rehydrated, about one hour. Proceed with your apple recipe.

More Home Food Preservation Tips

We have dozens of posts on home preservation, all catalogued on the Recipes and Kitchen Tips page.

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