Appalachia Appalachian Food

Drying Apples

How to can applesauce

This time of the year always has me thinking about making applesauce for the coming winter. My problem this year-I can’t find any apples I like-you know the free kind. I published portions of the post below way back in November of 2008. Since that time-I’ve settled on using a food dehydrator as the easiest and quickest way to dry apples.

ApplesEach summer I can applesauce, apple butter, and apple jelly. This year I decided to give drying apples a try. I wanted to use the old simple way of drying the apples in the sun.

Trays of dried apples

I lined my pans with parchment paper and covered my slices with cheese cloth-to keep the bugs off. It took several days (I took them in at night) to dry the apples. I do live on the north side of the mountain-so a sunnier location would be faster.

Dried Apples

When the apples are dry-they will feel rubbery but not brittle. I’ve read about steps you can take to prevent browning-but since it doesn’t change the taste, I don’t mind the brown.

Dried apples can be used to make applesauce, pies, cakes or just eaten. Miss Cindy, The Deer Hunter’s Mom, makes her own trail mix-she adds her dried apples to it. (I always pick out the dried apples and eat them before anyone else has a chance!)

Close up tray of drying apples

In the old days, folks sometimes preserved apples by using a bleaching method or by smoking the slices. A few additional tips for drying apples today:

  • You can dry apples inside a car on a hot day-this also helps with the bugs
  • Apples can be dried in your oven-it can take up to 11 hours-set your oven to the lowest temperature and check them often
  • Turning the slices aids in the drying
  • Store dried apples in a cool dark place


p.s. I couldn’t resist showing you:

Sleepy contra dancer

This is what happens when you stay out late Contra Dancing and then try to catch up on homework!

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  • Reply
    October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    i rember dried apples years ago when i was a young boy dont see them any more around here nice healthy snack thanks

  • Reply
    October 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    This is one of the things I miss most about the mountains…fresh pick your own apples.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Delores-thank you for sharing your memories of dried apples! You can go here: see what contra dancing is : )

  • Reply
    October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I used to help my Nanny dry apples – on screens on the sunporch or in the car window.
    I love the cooked apples – just on toast – but some fried pies would be just about right now too.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    October 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I make apple butter and applesauce, but haven’t dried any. Growing up, my parents took us off to the orchard to pick apples. We loved climbing the trees and eating the apples right off the trees. I think we ate as many as we picked!

  • Reply
    Don Wiley
    October 21, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Top of the wood stove on a cookie sheet is perfect for drying apples. I did that last Christmas because I wanted to make a stack cake and I was told that dried apples were more flavorable that just cooking them. I found that to be true.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    October 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I haven’t dried any fruit for a long time, so now you have tempted me to try your method. I have used apples, cut up, skinned, and a bit of lemon juice, put them in a crock pot with a bit of honey and cinnamon. They would cook on low for six hours, maybe seven if I forget about them. They come out like the apples served in some restaurants. I do this especially if the apples have gotten old. I think it brings back their flavors.
    Liked the picture of Chitter or was it Chatter trying to catch up.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Drying Apples brought back memories to me of going to my parents home in Mississippi and seeing many large tables filled with apples drying in the sun. They used large pieces of what looked to be like tin. My mother would keep the dried apples in large glass jars and make fried pies like Lonnie D described in his comment. She made the best fried pies I have ever tasted. They were fried in the old cast iron skillet. Just thinking about them makes me hungry for one. Thanks for bringing these memories back. Now, what is Contra Dancing? Looks like she got a lot of good exercise.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Totally enjoyed hearing you on the radio. And now I am wondering when you will have your own radio show. That is a really good idea.

  • Reply
    Vanessa Elhenicky
    October 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    We went to the u pick orchard today & I had a happy thrill when I saw your post title today. It’s supposed to be a warm week & we’ve been trying the drying method this year. It’s worked great w/ our zucchini, basil & garlic, we’re trying our hand at curing the sweet potatoes right now. I plan on just dropping the apples in lemon water for the browning.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I went by the bank to see about a loan to buy some apples to make apple butter. They are from 30 to 60 dollars a bushel this year. I haven’t even seen any “deer apple” signs this year. They are probably making juice out of every thing that’s not perfect.
    All y’all don’t forget the radio show. It’s at 5:00 PM!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    My Mom used to dry apples using sulfur, they called it bleaching, it made the finest fried pies and Apple Stack Cakes that you could wrap your tongue around.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    We’ve been drying lots of wild apples, finding them in one spot that seemed to have been protected from the late frosts earlier this year. I use wild vs free, but I mean the same by it:) We use our dried apples for snacking and on hikes, good stuff. We also don’t care if they brown, and we also keep the peel…good roughage:)
    Best wishes tonight, I am sure you will be fantastic!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    October 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

    One of these days she’s gonna sooo get even with you! Those dried apples sure do bring back memories!

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    October 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Both of my grandmothers dried apples for winter use. Fruit was at a premium in the winter. One of my grandmothers would make fried apple pies. She would roll out dough about the size of a saucer and put a large spoonfull of apples in the center and fold over into a half circle and crimp down the round edges with her finger and fry the pies. Really tasted great. I suspose that they used lard or Crisco because it seemed that was what they always used. Sometime they would take what we called fatback or the fat meat off of the hog and fry it real good and crispy to get all of the grease out and use that. I loved eating the crispy remains. I also remembered them making sugar syrup and having that for breakfast when we would eat that with biscuts. Half sugar and half water and cook until it turns into a syrup.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    October 20, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I remember when you first posted the picture of her sleeping. It reminds me of sleeping on pallets at Mamaw’s house. Isn’t the fall weather just beautiful? Down here it’s just now getting cool at night- still hot in the day. Ya’ll be blessed!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Mom used to dry her apples by threading them on a string and hanging them behind the stove pipe. They made the best apple pies!
    I hope you have a relaxing and peaceful weekend. I doubt it will be very peaceful if The Sleeping Beauty finds out you posted her picture here. LOL!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I am ready for drying apples and then some potatoes. I plan to start on the apples the first of next week, so I am off to Ellijay or some local market to find some. I don’t have a free source either 🙁 I love to dry foods! So much easier than other methods. What does Miss Cindy put in her trail mix? Yes, that is a recipe request – pretty please? I have never made my own.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

    When I was younger, I would frequently see apple slices like yours laid out on bed sheets on the hood of the car in the yard at the country houses. Your picture of the apples looks like apples that my dad grew when I was a kid. The trees are gone now and I have wondered what variety they were. They would have been excellent for drying. They were hard as a rock. You picked them up off the ground when they fell from the tree. They were very sour. I would cut of slices with a knife and eat them. I would also feed them to Dad’s cows. The cows loved them.

  • Reply
    Nancy Narkawicz
    October 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’m looking for apples too. nn 😉

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    October 20, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I’ve never tried drying, but it makes more sense than any other method for simple living (voluntary or otherwise).

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 20, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I like dried apples, but have never tried making my own.

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