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By now you have all probably realized that I love my dehydrator and recommend using one weekly to make affordable and convenient snacks. The dehydrator is also a great way to reduce food waste by saving food for later use as snacks, in soups and stews, or for adding to baked goods like scones and muffins. This apple chew recipe can store well in your pantry in an airtight container to be chopped up and used later in scones or muffins and is also a great addition to my homemade lentil and millet vegan breakfast sausages.
Buying You Dehydrator
My recommendation when purchasing a dehydrator is to purchase a square one because this shape makes it easier to make fruit leather and long strips of fruits or vegetables. You can purchase them on Amazon in a variety of sizes from small to family-sized large. Whichever you go with, be sure to measure the space you plan to keep it in before buying. It is best to find a spot where you can permanently leave it so that you can have food dehydrating whenever you need to make some without worrying about losing any functional capacity of your kitchen. You may even store it in your dining room or kitchen pantry (space-permitting) to work on your tasty snacks and treats in the background. I currently have a round one and I know from personal experience how frustrating they can be to make fruit leathers with. I just can’t bring myself to buy a new one until this one breaks! I should really take the plunge. So if you all get a square one, please share your favorite one with me down in the comments.
For this recipe, I made 3 different varieties: plain (with lemon juice only), ginger (lemon and ginger), and cinnamon (lemon and cinnamon). The lemon is a great citrus fruit to use for these because it prevents browning of the fruit but when dry you can’t really taste the lemon. It just brings out the taste of the apple. However, you can also use lime or orange, depending on the end product you are going for. Feel free to also get creative with your spices. Each tray can be a different flavor, from cayenne, to ginger, to cinnamon, and even pumpkin pie spice mix! It is that time of year, after all.
4 Honey Crisp Apples (or whichever apple flavor is your favorite)
Lemon Juice (1-4 Tbsp)
- First slice your apples using your mandoline slicer (I like this one because it comes with a container to reduce mess). Don’t forget to use cutting gloves to protect your fingers. Remember, this is an adult only task, so don’t let your children help with this part. Cutting gloves are a really good tool for a busy parent, especially with all the distractions we can face while preparing meals for our family. Safety first!
- Next, squeeze your lemon juice. You’ll need enough lemon juice to cover the apple slices and more if you love the taste! This is one your little one can help with and toddlers usually love to help peel and squeeze citrus fruits. Get them a juicer and set up their area in a clean and safe space. Don’t forget their helping tower and a non-skid mat (such as a piece of kitchen shelf liner) to work on. You can even place a piece of shelf liner under a tray so that if spills do occur, they will stay inside the tray making clean up even easier.
- Keep cleaning supplies handy for them to clean up spills and other messes with (expanding cleaning cloths, reusable paper towels or sponges, small hand broom, kitchen wash cloths). They love to clean up after themselves and it is a wonderful way for them to build confidence in their independence.
- Layer the slices on the trays. Another task your little one can help with. Make a single layer and it is ok if the fruit slices touch right now because they will quickly reduce in size as they dry.
- Sprinkle/dust on the spices onto your apple slices. I like to do this over the sink to reduce mess. Do this to personal taste, but read my notes below on safety. Your little one can also help with this!
- Keep in mind some spices are not safe for small kids, especially in large quantities, which is more than 1/4 teaspoon. Do not use nutmeg, poppy seeds, and limit cinnamon intake for your child. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, also do not consume nutmeg or poppy seeds and keep your cinnamon intake to Ceylon and less than 4 teaspoons daily. Nutmeg has been used as an abortifacient to induce miscarriage and can be lethal at small doses in children and adults. No more than a literal small pinch of nutmeg for a child please. It is best to avoid this spice. Ginger is generally considered safe but do not consume more than 4 teaspoons daily if pregnant and no more than 1/4 teaspoon a day for children.
- Dehydrate and rotate your trays according to the manual.
That is it! I dehydrate on average of 4-6 hours to get a chewy texture. You can also dehydrate until they are crisp like a chip if you prefer that. Chewy apples and other fruits may be too difficult for a toddler to eat, so mind any choking hazards such as dried fruit. You can use these apple chews in scones and muffins which will make them soft and easy for your child under the age of 3 to consume. But if you dehydrate them to a crisp chip phase, they may be easier to consume. One trick to make them easier for a young child is to use the mandoline to make paper thin slices which results in a drier fruit and more crisp texture with less drying time. Your child under 3 can safely consume foods you’d be able to mash with your tongue and/or that be softened within a few seconds from the saliva in your mouth. So, if your chew cannot be safely consumed, save them for yourself and make crisps for your toddler. You can also make soft fruit snacks instead using apple puree and other fruits plus pectin. I’ll share that recipe in future!
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