Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

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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When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
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In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
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People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
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I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
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Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
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In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
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At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by @official.dpd.uk for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
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As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
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This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
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Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
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We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
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In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater
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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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