Backpacking and planning outdoor adventures can be fun and exciting. But sometimes, the greatest joy is in the planning process. Not everyone is a planner, but I thoroughly enjoy the process. Before every trip I like to plan out meals, routes, food, and many other nitty
We have just returned from our Spring Break trip down to the Red River Gorge to rock climb in Muir Valley, which is a new and developing passion as well.
Today you will learn how to dehydrate your own
food. This is a new part of food preservation I am learning, including canning food (also an art form) and, of course, freezing food.
For today’s Tuesday Tutorial we will be dehydrating apples using a conventional toaster oven. Ours is a cheap Black and Decker version from Target, but most toaster ovens will work.
In case you were wondering, there are other tutorials online doing this, this is just the Better World Biker version. Simple, frugal, and easy.
We will be using a toaster oven, because of the Occasional Use Fallacy, which means that unless we use it all of the time, then we will not waste our money purchasing such a thing. There will be a post on this coming soon.
STEP 1: Get apples. I prefer local apples, grown fresh right here in Wisconsin, but for this particular experiment the Mrs. did the grocery shopping, so we will be using some Red Braeburn apples from ALDI. They were 2.99 for 3 lbs. In the future I would like to use apples straight from an orchard. Since an Orchard runs in the family, we will hopefully be able to obtain many pounds of apples like this in the future.
Apples are also a wonderful fruit of choice, since for many of us here in the United States, we can grow apples right in our backyards! They are all over the place, and super delicious! They are also conveniently much cheaper than many other fruits.
STEP 2: Core & Cut the Apples. I used an apple corer to chop out the center of the apple, and then cut the apples into thin slices. I left the peels on because it retains some of the nutritious value, and keeps it looking more like an apple.
STEP 3: Prepare the Apples. Many recipes recommend using some sort of preparation to avoid discoloration/oxidization. This can be a lemon juice-water mixture, ascorbic acid, or sodium bisulfate. I tried the lemon juice-water mixture, but it resulted in the apples being super tart. Since I am trying to keep things simple here, and didn’t really want to spend money on ordering fancy chemicals in the mail, we skipped this process. I don’t expect this will be an issue, since we plan to consume the apples shortly after dehydrating them.
STEP 4: Place on Pan. Spread them out so they aren’t overlapping as much as mine are! It is fine if they are close together, because they will shrink over time as the water evaporates out of the apple.
STEP 4: “Cook” the Apples in the Toaster Oven: I set my toaster oven for 200F, and let it dehydrate for one hour at a time. After one hour, remove from toaster oven, flip all of the apples over, and then put back in the toaster oven for a 2nd hour. After the 2nd hour, do the same process; flip the apples, put them back in. After 3-4 hours, you should be all set! The length of time really depends on how many you have per sheet (this batch I did a lot on one sheet. Probably much more than I should have), and how thin you slice them.
You can also use your normal oven for this, but since our gas is significantly more expensive than our electricity, and our oven is a gas oven, we will be using the toaster oven.
STEP 5: Enjoy the End Result! Congratulations! You have successfully dehydrated your own apples! Now, onto trying other fruits… what could be next? Oranges? Strawberries?
Taste Analysis: Very good. Nice and crunchy, and tastes like an apple, unlike many other dehydrated apples I have purchased before, which I suspect are coated in sugar and preservatives.
Cost Analysis: Eh. Not as good as I would have hoped. For about every 3 lbs of apples you dehydrate, you probably only get at most, 1 lb of dehydrated apples. I can’t put an exact number to this, since we ate a few apples out of the 3 lbs, and I don’t have a kitchen scale at this point due to the already mentioned Occasional Use Fallacy.
I would like to get a scale in the future, but it is hard to justify such a thing at this point.
Energy use = $0.124 according to our energy meter. This is for one batch. Multiply this by 3 batches, which is how many apples we’d have if we had cooked the whole 3 lbs of apples and you get a total of 0.37 cents! Wow! Toaster ovens are awesome!
Cost of Apples = 2.99
Not counting the approximately one hour of labor we put in, getting 1 pound of dehydrated apples = $0.37 + $2.99 = $3.36 for 1 lb of the finished, dehydrated product.
Compare this price to the approximate 5.60 per pound from Amazon and you get a savings of over $2 per pound! This doesn’t seem super significant, but it is rewarding to see that at least you come out ahead, financially. Especially if you are planning on making much more than 1lb at a time – it would really be worth your time and effort. Plus, it is a super fun learning process, and involves absolutely 0 preservatives.
Now it is YOUR turn! Preserve some food, and let me know how it turns out. I am thinking about adding a little bit of cinnamon & sugar/honey to this recipe to make the apples taste a bit more sweet at the end. Altogether though, I am excited to this some more in the future, and thankful for the awesome modern conveniences of toaster ovens!!
Keep on Readin’ On!