|Pink Lady apples..a delicious eating apple!|
To start off with, she peeled them with my new groovy apple peeler picked up from the op shop. This little gadget makes quick work of the apples, literally peeling them in two seconds! Really! I kid you not.
The peeled apples were then cored and sliced, this time slightly thicker than my previous batch..maybe 3-4mm thick. The slices were then soaked in a bowl of lemon juice...
...and then threaded onto some wooden dowel that we had picked up at the hardware shop that day. After trying the string on my first batch, I was looking for something a little sturdier to hold the apples. The dowel is untreated oak and about 9mm in diameter. I bought 2 lengths of 2 meters each, and being untreated, I felt pretty comfortable using it to dry food.
The dowel was then hung on some hooks that I had fitted onto a large beam that runs across the bench in our kitchen. It was just a simple set up with some cup hooks and S hooks to bring the dowel down a little to allow for the height of the apple rings. I even used string on one end, where I had run out of S hooks! Worked great!
The apples nearly all fit onto the dowel lengths, although they were slightly squashed and I had to add an extra string line. Ideally, 1kg of sliced apples would fit comfortably onto 1 metre of dowel.
The spot where they are drying is nice and warm, being in our kitchen/living area which is exposed to the constant heat of the wood heater. There is good air circulation and the humidity is low. The temperature usually hovers on 18-20c. And being in the kitchen, I'm not likely to forget about them and actually had a very nice time nibbling on them as they dried..all for testing purposes of course!
The apples took about 3 days to dry this time around with some slices needing an extra day. The finished texture of our apples is leathery..almost like a chamois cloth..but much tastier!
If they are going to be stored for any length of time, the dried apples need to be 'pasteurized'. This is done by placing them in a freezer in plastic storage bags for a few days and then pulled out and stored in an airtight container. The freezer must be at 0c to pasteurize effectively - a freezer on top of a refrigerater won't be up to scratch. Alternatively the dried fruit can be heated in a low oven (80c/175f) for 10-15 minutes. This method destroys more vitamins than the freezer method. Pasteurizing causes any insect eggs or micro organisms that may be present and possibly cause spoilage to be destroyed.
Our finished dried apples after 3 days
We have an admirable supply of dried apples now, and are all enjoying munching on them as a healthy snack. Be warned though..they are very morish!! Oh and the lengths of dowel also make great pasta drying racks!