Apples are widely harvested in the Czech Republic every autumn. This time of year, nearly every Czech has easy access to apples thanks to their own backyard trees or generous neighbors. Drying apple slices is a fantastic way to process apples. Czechs call this healthy snack krizaly!
For this recipe, you need only one ingredient: fresh apples. No extra sugar, cinnamon, ginger powder, or other spices to enhance the taste.
Czech grannies used to dry apples over the wood stove. I bought a dehydrator for this purpose years ago, and I don't regret it at all. In the fall, the dehydrator is one of the busiest appliances in my kitchen. Besides apples, I dry plums, pears, or wild mushrooms in it.
MY TIP: Homemade dried apples are not only an ideal fall treat, but they also make an excellent edible gift, such as for a beloved teacher, co-workers, and friends!
Fan of apples? Try also this old-fashioned apple strudel or no-bake apple jelly cake!
➜ What you need to make dried apples
- Fresh apples; they don't have to be perfect in appearance; a blemish on their skins or any other flaws don't matter!
- Knife and cutting board; to slice apples
- Apple core remover; one of the greatest easy tools for processing apples at home. With its assistance, you can quickly remove the apple core; I can't recommend it enough!
- Apple peeler; to get rid of the skin of apples. The peeler is simple to use; with a little practice, you can peel an apple in a matter of seconds.
- Food dehydrator; one of the best helpers in my kitchen when I want to dry excess produce from our backyard. Using a dehydrator is easy and comfortable. You can dry six or more trays of fruit in one go, and set the temperature and drying time - all this is handled by my food dehydrator, which I got for a decent price, without having to dig deep into my pocket.
The natural sugars in the apples become more pronounced during the drying process, making them sweet enough to be enjoyed by anyone with a sweet tooth.
➜ Preparing apples for drying
Prepare apples for dehydration in three steps. If you have culinary experience, you should be able to prepare one apple in less than one minute. With a little care, though, even novices can rapidly peel and core apples, then slice them into rings. Just adhere to my instructions.
Peel the apples
I use a hand peeler with a swivel blade to remove the apple skins. Quickly and easily peel an apple without using excessive force, simply by holding the blade at the right angle to the skin.
Remove the apple core
Now it's time for the apple corer. Place the apple, stem side down, on a chopping board. Place the core remover on the blossom end and press down. Push the instrument all the way down through the apple's center with a little force. Remove the cut-out apple center from the tool.
Look at the apple hole. If you find any traces of the core or seeds on the hole sides, use the remover to cut them out by moving it slightly away from the apple's center and pushing it down again.
Slice apple into thin rings
Cut the apples into ⅛-1/6" thin rings with a knife. Try to keep the apple slices uniformly thick so that they dry evenly.
When exposed to air, sliced apple pieces begin to brown. This is a completely natural reaction that has no influence on the fruit's quality and has no health repercussions. Dip the apples in a mixture of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice to avoid browning for aesthetic reasons.
MY TIP: Do you have a mandolin in your kitchen? Use this tool to slice apples. It will speed up your work.
➜ How to dry apples in dehydrator
A food dehydrator makes it easy to dry large quantities of apples at once. The machine provides excellent air circulation through all trays of sliced fruit, drawing moisture out and thus reducing drying time.
Dehydrator is energy efficient, and if you have the type with temperature and drying time settings, I can't think of a better way to dry apples.
- Lay out the apple slices on the dehydrator trays in a single layer, close together but not touching.
- Place the trays in the dryer and set the temperature to 150°F (65°C).
- Turn on the dehydrator and dry the apples for 8-12 hours.
The shorter the drying time, the more moisture and supple the apple slices will be. The apples should be thoroughly dehydrated after 12 hours and should break when bent.
I recommend rotating the fruit trays around two-thirds of the way through the drying process. Those who were on top transfer down, and vice versa. This will help the apples dry more evenly.
➜ Do I need to peel apples before dehydrating?
The short answer is yes. While removing the apple skins seems to be a personal preference, I always recommend peeling the apples, especially if the skin is tough or damaged. You can remove the apple peel with a vegetable peeler in a few strokes. The entire process will take no more than a few seconds!
In any case, remove the apple core. Unpeeled apple slices with the core inside may look fancy with a star in the middle, but the tough to prickly parts of the core will bother you when you eat them. In the past, Czechs used such dehydrated apple slices for fragrant decorations on Christmas trees.
➜ Other methods to dry apples and possible issues
Oven drying: It is often recommended to dry apples in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
I've tried, and the results are not nearly as good as drying in a dehydrator. The oven is primarily for baking or roasting, and the moisture from the food circulates inside and prevents the dish from drying out.
If you don't have the option to open the oven during the process (my oven always shuts off when opened), the apples won't dry sufficiently, and you may have to raise the temperature or increase the drying time.
Sun drying: Drying apples on a warm day with the sun shining and possibly a light wind can be a good option.
However, in my home country of the Czech Republic, such days are few and far between. Housewives in my country's southern, warmer regions used to dry apples stretched out on large screens in the attic under the roof, where it was warmest.
If you wish to dry apples outside and the weather isn't cooperating, the apples may become moldy before they can dry.
➜ Storage of dehydrated apples
Homemade dried apples with a shorter drying period (6-8 hours) will have a leathery texture. Chewy apple slices are incredibly delicious and juicy in their own right. These are meant to be consumed quickly, such as a nutritious snack for school or work. If the dried apples are left for an extended period of time, the residual moisture content may cause them to mold.
After around 12 hours, the apples are totally dried. Dehydrated apple chips will be perfectly crisp and will crack if twisted. Apples dried in this manner are ideal for long-term storage because they contain very little liquid.
Store the crunchy apple crisp in an airtight container, a glass jar with a clip or screw lid, or a breathable fabric bag in a dry and dark location. The shelf life of well-dried apples stored in this way is a year or even more!
More apple recipes:
- Apple bread pudding (zemlovka)
- Apple carrot salad
- Czech apple slice (hrabenciny rezy)
- Pan fried apple rings (in pancake batter)
- Easy puff pastry apple strudel
Homemade Dried Apples (Czech Krizaly)
- 10 apples
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice optional, if you want to soak the apples in a mixture of water and lemon juice to prevent them from browning
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove the apple skins.
- Cut out the core with an apple core remover.
- Cut apples into ⅛-1/6" thick rings. To prevent the apples from browning, soak them in a mixture of several cups of water mixed with lemon juice.
- Lay out the apple slices on the dehydrator trays, in a single layer, close together but not overlapping.
- Set the dehydrator to 150°F (65°C) and turn the timer on for 8-12 hours, depending on whether you want dried apples with a leathery texture (shorter time) or fully dried apple chips (need longer to dry).
- For a better-tasting experience, always peel the apples and remove their cores.
- Softer apple slices with a shorter drying time (6-8 hours) are intended for short-term consumption.
- Store well-dried apple chips (10-12 hours) that break when bent in an airtight container in a dry, dark place. They will keep for a year or more.
- EQUIPMENT: For this recipe, you will need a food dehydrator, a vegetable peeler, and an apple core remover.
DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:Conversion chart