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Making dried apple rings with a dehydrator

apple chips in mason jar

Working from home a lot I have a bit of a snacking issue.

When work gets difficult, when a design isn't working or when I have a daunting email to write, I pace about the house and often mindlessly snack.

I decided to come up with a solution just as our apple trees produced a bumper crop.

I love fruit - it is my most usual snack food - but the speed I eat it at is the problem.

I can easily get way over my five a day by lunchtime.

So I decided to invest in a dehydrator and see whether I could transform our apple harvest into a much nicer form of dried apple rings than you can find in the shops.

apple trees Snapdragon Studio

Our apple trees are pretty feral. I planted a selection of old varieties when we moved here 15 years ago.

I carefully selected them by pollination dates and sentimentality - we have Stirling Castle, Katie, and five others I can't even remember, though their names were vitally important at the time.

We planted them in the area around where the workshop is now, staked and mulched. Within a week they had been grazed to stumps by deer who merrily munched through the deer guards on the trunks.

apple slices in colander

Then, a couple of years ago I spotted bright red and green apples in the rough ground that links the workshop to the woodland and realised that the apple trees had simply grown on, warped and twisted by the attention of deer, but that they were happily fruiting away.

Most of the apples are half way between cookers and eaters - probably originally eaters but sharper than modern eating apples tend to be. To make the apple chips I gathered smallish windfalls.

apple slices being cut

I didn't bother peeling or coring them, just sliced them 1mm thick on my mandoline cutter (I just have a very cheap plastic one - nothing fancy but incredibly useful).

I love the flowery centres that the slices have.

apple slices in honey water

Then - to stop them discolouring - I put them into a bowl of water with a tablespoon of honey in it. You can also use lemon in the water but my apples are really sour so I went with the honey. They were just in there for the time it took me to slice up all the apples.

apple slices in dehydrator

Then I layered them up in my dehydrator - arranged so that the slices don't touch at all. My dehydrator is by Andrew James and I like its big rectangular trays - it does make a noise though so I have it in the spare bedroom rather than the kitchen.

I put the dehydrator on at 70 degrees for 5 hours - As the slices are very thin they don't take a long time to dry out.

apple slices drying

Once the apple rings are crispy, take them off the racks and store in an airtight box or jar.

apple slices

I got about 40-50 apple rings per apple, so hopefully that will slow down my snacking a bit. The apple rings should store fine for a month or so - it depends on how dry they are.

If you don't have a dehydrator you can bake the slices on wire grids in as cool an oven as you can manage. If you happen to have a 4 door Aga the warming oven is ideal - otherwise just put the oven on as low a setting as possible and keep an eye on them. They are unlikely to take as long and will be more 'cooked' but will still be very tasty. Baking them in an oven is easier if you cut the slices thicker to begin with - 2mm rather than 1.

how to make apple rings

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I am a bit of a womble.  My Studio is a layering of things that have been found, things that have been saved, things that have been given to me - I like to be surrounded by a bit of history. ⁠⠀
I am known as an avid skip diver so people kindly keep me things.  This weekend I am off to pick up 13 sash windows rescued from a skip.⁠⠀
This is my dye cupboard - the mordants and other powders, the piles of fabrics and yarns, my newly started record book and the glue to paste the swatches in.⁠⠀
It has had a hard life - the back is patched with hinges as plates, there are many, many layers of paint and a door has gone missing along the way.  It is perfect.⁠⠀
Back when I grew flowers commercially the area that is now ‘the orchardy bit’ was rows and rows of spring bulbs.⁠ In the years where the deer didn’t eat the tulips they looked magnificent, stripe upon stripe of pure pigment. ⠀
When I turned my back on growing for money, we simply took out the beds and levelled it, turning it back to grass.⁠⠀
The tulips quickly gave up - never brilliantly perennial here anyway, they took the opportunity to fade out fast.⁠ Well if you don’t want us . . . ⠀
The narcissi loved it though and every year appeared back in their serried rows through the grass. ⁠There was something disturbingly grave like about them.
My planting  ever since has all been an attempt to disguise that - feathering the edges, making little islands, trying to make it all look haphazard.⁠⠀
Gradually it is working - this is the edge of what would have been a bed of Narcissi geranium (best vase life, along with best scent) - now happily interspersed with a pheasants eye and a little lemon coloured one I have lost the name of.
And the hedges beginning to vibrate with that gloriously specific spring green.
This week has been about experimenting.⁠⠀
Experimenting with all the ways to dye with daffodils, experimenting with the new e-course part of my website, experimenting with shooting and editing videos on my phone.⁠⠀
My business hero is @sethgodin and his mantra is 'ship it' - a way of saying that the best way to learn is to make things and get them out in front of people before they are polished and 'perfect'.⁠⠀
So I took his advice and combined all three experiments. Today's newsletters will have links to a free e-course all about dyeing wool with daffodils.⁠⠀
I have been absolutely amazed by the colour you get from faded daffodil flowers (see the second photo). It is a bright, yet somehow soft, golden yellow which is now adding an amazing zing to my pile of plant dyed fabrics.⁠⠀
I am prone to obsessions.  My brain hones in on topics and rabbit holes away, a constant background chatter to my life.⁠⠀
It annoys the people I live with as my world shrinks to one topic. ⠀
My camera roll shows me it is three years ago this week that I returned to natural dyeing with plants, concentrating on using only the plants growing within a couple of miles.⁠⠀
Three years of experimenting with plant after plant, three years of googling and reading obscure articles and piling up samples. ⁠three years of conversation about mordants and modifiers. ⠀
Three years is a short time in such a slow craft. A blink of an eye. ⁠⠀
But already I can see a difference in my skill.⁠⠀
This is a corner of the cupboard where I stash my fabrics and yarns building up enough for a project.  These have all been dyed this year - with barks and cones. ⁠⠀
This week I am dyeing with bright deadheaded daffodils and the golden yellows will join these soft terracottas and pinks while I dream up something to make.
I grow very few white flowers. ⁠⠀
White summer flowers tend to mark in the rain - white roses look like discarded tissues, white dahlias spot brown.  Even cosmos purity - which I do grow - goes droopy and grey in a way that the coloured versions don't.⁠⠀
The petals of spring bulbs however seem rain resistant - so I can indulge my love of white flowers and enjoy them backlit by the morning sun on the Studio window shelf.
Bright and light and pretty.
I am spending a lot of time in the greenhouse at the moment - playing an endless game of jenga with my seed trays.⁠⠀
Many of the seedlings are for the community gardens - being planted out gradually under fleece. We are biding time, taking the cautious route so that we minimise the risk of everything being wiped out by a very cold night.⁠⠀
We still have a full month of frosts to go here - little ones of -2 or 3 are manageable, an extra covering of fleece, some bricks to act like a storage heater.  Most hardy seedlings will recover from getting their tips nipped a bit.⁠⠀
Last year though we had a really cold night in mid May, when growth was going well and sappily. It blasted the blossom and killed many of my hardy veg too. Slightly too late to resow.⁠⠀
Speak to the older generation of gardeners and they all sowed and planted out much later than is the fashion today.  They perhaps had a point.
I wrote in my Friday letter this week about the sudden lifting of the uncertainty and inertia that had been dogging me for a few months.⁠⠀
It's always easier to write about these things once they are resolved - do you find that?  Once I am unstuck and lolloping along happily again, I can look at it all and not get sucked down.⁠⠀
Of course all this talk of getting going again, of new plans and exciting things . . . . it all actually means hard work. ⁠⠀
Head down, working through an actual written plan kind of hard work.  Not always my natural strength.⁠⠀
So yesterday I rearranged the studio window shelves and cleared the working table, ready for an uninterrupted start today. ⁠⠀
An attempt to keep momentum.

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


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