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