When you think of fall fruits, do apples come to mind?

How many ways can you preserve apples?

When you think of fall fruits do apples come to mind? Fall is apple season! Apples are nutritious. The average 3.5 ounce apple has 52 calories. Apples contain about fourteen grams of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are divided into ten grams of sugar and four grams of dietary fiber.

Typically the apples are eaten raw. But they can be canned, dehydrated, frozen, or juiced. Apples are a major ingredient in desserts such as apple crisp, apple pie, apple crumble, and apple cake.

To preserve the apples, they can be canned, dehydrated or frozen. Applesauce is one way to can apples. Apples slices can be canned or frozen to make pie. 

Another way to preserve apples is to dehydrate them. In Michigan because we do not have ten percent or less humidity for air or sun drying, it is necessary to rely on a mechanical means of drying the apples such as using an electric dehydrator.

To prepare the apples for drying, it is necessary to pick blemish free fruit. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you wash your hands before preparing any fresh produce. The fresh produce needs to be rinsed well with lukewarm water before any further preparation takes. Peel and core the apples. Next slice the apple into 1/8 inch thick slices.

To prevent the apples from turning brown, oxidizing, a method of pre-treatment needs to be used. The methods for pre-treating apples include an ascorbic acid dip, ascorbic acid mixture dip, fruit juice dip, honey dip, syrup blanching steam blanching or sulfite dip.

Ascorbic acid, vitamin C, mixed with water is a safe way to prevent the apple from browning. Ascorbic acid comes in the powdered or tablet form from a drugstore or grocery store. One teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid equals to 3000 miligrams (mg) of ascorbic acid in tablet form. If you buy 500 miligrams tablets, you would need six tablets to make the solution.

Directions: Mix one teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid (or 3000mg of crushed ascorbic acid tablets) in two cups of water. Put the apple slices into the solution for three to five minutes. Remove the apples from the solution and drain well. The solution should be used only twice before adding additional ascorbic acid. Put the apple slices on the dryer trays. Next place the trays in the dehydrator. The estimated drying time for the apple slices in the dehydrator will be between six and twelve hours. 

Another way to preserve apples in the dry form is to make apple leather. Apple leather is a homemade version of a fruit roll. It is a tasty chewy, dried fruit product.

Fruit leather is made by pouring pureéd fruit onto a flat surface for drying. It gets the name “leather” because when the fruit pureé is dried, it is shiny and resembles the texture of leather.

To make the apple leather: Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit. Wash the apples under running water. Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into chunks and pureé until smooth. Use two cups of fruit to make the 13 inch by 15 inch apple leather. To keep the apple pureé from turning dark, add two teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid for two cups of apple pureé.

For an electric dehydrator there are plastic liners specifically designed to make fruit leathers on the dryer trays.

To make the apple leather, the apple pureé can be poured on to the lined plastic dryer tray in one sheet 13 inches by 15 inches or in smaller strips. Do not pour the pureé too close to the edge of the tray. The layer of pureé should be no thicker than 1/8 of an inch. The larger the apple pureé sheet the longer it will take to dry. The estimated drying time in an electric dehydrator at 140 degrees Fahrenheit is six to eight hours.

To test for doneness, touch the center of the leather. There should be no indentation left behind. While the apple leather is still warm peel it from the plastic and roll. Allow the leather to cool before re-wrapping in plastic for storage in an airtight container. Children will enjoy making fun shapes out of the apple leather. To make fun shapes, use cookie cutters to cut the leather.

Apple leather will last about one month at room temperature. For longer storage put the tightly wrapped fruit rolls in freezer bags and freeze for up to one year. 

Fall is definitely apple season. If you run out of freezer space or canning jars try drying apple rings or making apple leathers as another way to preserve apples. Enjoy!

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