It can be a challenge to find healthy snacks that are simple to transport without bruising or damage and don’t need to be kept cold. Growing up, my mom would make dried apples for my brother and me to munch on and take to school in our lunches. It was a favorite snack in my childhood home where my physician assistant mother limited simple sugars. Early on in my marriage, after the birth of my first child, my mom gifted me with a food dehydrator of my own. I really only use it for fruit; apples, bananas, strawberries and even pineapple. And, though, it requires some time to prepare, it is much cheaper than buying commercially prepared dried fruit. I take advantage of seasonal fruit sales to buy in bulk and preserve for later. The only downside is that my hungry tribe devours a batch in less time than it take me to cut the fruit and line the trays! Still, I would rather they enjoy fruit than crackers or other empty carbohydrates. Trust me, they get plenty of those too.
Food dehydrators can be picked up at yard sales and rummage shops for a few dollars if it isn’t in your budget to buy new. Mine is not the most expensive brand, and has met my needs sufficiently and lasted many years. Dehydrators serve more purposes than just preserving fruit. Users can also dry vegetables and meats, but I do not have experience to speak of in this area. Keep in mind that dehydrated fruit contains more calories per ounce than fresh because the water has been removed, but the fact that there are no added ingredients or preservatives offset this negative for me.
Make sure you wash your fruit well. I soak my apples in water with a bit of vinegar for a few minutes and then wipe them down with a Norwex mesh washcloth if they need a little extra scrubbing. I soak my strawberries in a water and vinegar bath as well and rinse them well afterward. I take the time to remove the top and hull from the berries and then use my strawberry slicer to make quick work and consistent slices so that they dry equally. There are banana and pineapple slicers as well if you are interested, but I don’t own either to review.
For many years I used a potato peeler to peel my apples and then I would slice them up, but I happened upon a sale with a rebate on top that put a new, handy appliance within my budget. KitchenAid makes a spiralizer attachment with a peel core and slice feature. Now my apples are peeled, cored, sliced and ready in a matter of a few minutes. Because it is apple season, I got busy this week making dried apples. I prefer a sweeter apple for this, like a gala or red delicious, as opposed to a tart apple, but don’t be afraid to try a few types. My photo shows a granny smith on the spiralizer, but that was for the apple pie we enjoyed this week. The apples I dehydrated were gala apples. There should be a fruit setting on any dehydrator that you would use, but if not, you can set it at 135 degrees. I generally run mine overnight if I want the slices crunchy, or for 5 or so hours for chewier slices. My oldest two kids have already enjoyed most of this week’s efforts. Never fear though, I buy so many apples that I was once asked by a cashier if I owned horses that were going to eat all the apples I was buying. I giggled and said, “No, just a whole bunch of kids who eat like horses.”