Apple harvesting season is near and it seems apple-infused recipes are only second to pumpkin spice infused recipes. It used to be that in order to make apples last through the winter, they had to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place for several weeks. Root cellars were dug under houses just for that purpose. Root cellars have their problems though. (Cellar spiders being the main one depending on who you ask.)
Other methods of preservation, such as canning and dehydrating, use higher temperatures that can destroy more than half the food value. If you have a home freeze dryer, preserving apples is so simple. Freeze drying does not shrink or toughen the apples, but retains the aroma, flavor, color, shape and nutritional content. Your apples will still look and taste fresh because, in reality, they still are!
The health benefits of apples? Some say they stave off everything from cancer to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. Assuredly the are extremely high in antioxidants, soluble fiber, and trace nutrients that are hard to come by otherwise. There is a reason for the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Here are some of our favorite ways to use freeze-dried apples:
- Sliced for pie – everyone knows this is the best way to eat apples. To freeze dry apple pie apples, slice them less than 1″ thick, freeze dry them in a single layer on the trays, then store in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.
- Diced for granola and yogurt – if you haven’t had crunchy freeze dried apples in your trail mix or breakfast granola, you’re missing out. Freeze dried apples are intensely delicious and wonderfully crunchy. To use as a crunchy topping, dice apples and leave the nutritious peel on.
- Diced for quick breads and spice muffins – apple muffins and apple quick breads are the perfect afternoon companion for a cup of tea or coffee.
- Ringed for hot drinks – peel your apples and slice thinly, freeze dry on a single layer on trays and store in an airtight container. Float rings of freeze dried apples in your holiday hot ciders and spiced punches. As they rehydrate they’ll soak up the spicy flavors, so feel free to eat the decorations.
- Sliced for snacks – on their own freeze dried apples pack all the nutritional punch of fresh apples. Send them to school with your kids and pack them in your lunchbox. Sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar, or your favorite pie spice. (Whatever you do, be sure to try them with salty buttered popcorn on movie night. The sweet and salty combination is divine.)
Apples are exciting at the beginning of Fall, but when they’re the only fresh fruit left in the house they can seem a little boring by February. Freeze dry your apples in a variety of ways and you’ll find you can enjoy new and interesting flavors all winter long.