How to preserve when you run out of jars...

28 March, 2015

With over 80kg of apples staring me down every time I walk into the kitchen, there is a lot of pressure to preserve some of these for future eating.

Thankfully most of these apples are destined for future drinking (yay, cider!) so I can ignore it most of the time. But I did want to preserve a few kilos for eating as well.

Sadly I'm out of preserving jars. What to do?

Dehydrate, of course.

When dealing with kilos and kilos of excess fruit (or veg) it's mainly the preparation that kills you. The time spent in the dehydrator (or Fowlers Vacola, or pressure canner, when there are jars to be had) doesn't require much energy on the part of the preserver.

But the peeling and chopping! It's hell. So anything to make the job easier is a god send.

Enter the apple peeler, corer and slicer. Also known as the apple slinky.

Apple Peeler Corer Slicer

I first saw one of these in action at the Apple Museum in Huon, Tasmania. (If you haven't been, go! It's fabulous!) I had heard of them prior to that occasion, but seeing it in action was something else. And so much fun for the kiddies. Who doesn't want to eat an apple slinky? No one.

But it wasn't until I saw someone, somewhere on the interwebs (sorry, but I can't remember who, or when) using these for preserving. The trick is in a judicious cut.

So knowing I had me some serious preserving to do, I finally purchased an apple slinky machine of my own.

Next, the apples.

I sorted through the 80kg and found around 6kg of the very biggest, finest fruit.

Then I set up my apple slinky station.

Note cup of coffee. Essential to preserving of any kind.

Then I got to work with the slinky.

Choose apple and stab onto apple slinky spikes.

Crank handle until the slicing begins.

Keep cranking.

And you're done.

Slide apple off core.

Now here is the genius part. Slice the apple along one side.

Now you have apple rings.

Drop into lemon juice spiked water to stop discolouration.

Remove the core.


It took me about 30 seconds per apple. That is heaps faster than doing the coring and slicing by hand!

All in all it takes about 10 minutes to fill the dehydrator.

I leave it on overnight on low (around 40 degrees C).

This is what I have when I wake up the next morning, along with a delicious apple-y scent.

Note gap from the one that I ate. Quality control is important!

They are a touch on the crispy side, but soften after a bit.

I have already filled a jar (as well as some pears that were on the squishy side and too many for me to eat at once) and have about half the apples still to go.

Doing it like this is so easy. A few minutes work before bed and there you have it. Dried apples.

What preserving tricks or shortcuts do you have?


  1. I live in England but read lots of Australian blogs ( many of them Tasmanian) and keep coming across dehydrated fruit ad veg. I am intrigued. Do the dried fruits/veg keep well? How do you use them? I can see the dried fruits would be OK in muesli but otherwise do you soak in water to plump them up before making fruit crumbles, pies or, in the case of veggies, a casserole? Please enlighten me!

    1. Hi Linda! Yes, they keep quite well. I've had apples, peaches and pears last for 4-5 months, which is the longest I've kept them before I ate them all.
      They do plump up when soaked in water and I reckon they'd be ok in anything stewed fruit textured, like crumbles or pies, but I've never tried it myself. Like parlance below they entirely get eaten as is for snacking. They are the ultimate convenience food.

  2. I guess Bek will reply, but from my point of view - only having bought dried apples, never made them - I just like to eat slices of dried apple as a snack. I just have to watch that I don't eat too many, because it's easy to forget that a few slices is a whole apple. They're very moreish.

    1. Yes, so true to easily eat 2-3 apples worth. I do find them reasonably filling though, as they are chewy. I also like leaving the skins on for the extra fibre, and less work as well. Win-win!

  3. Excellent post thanks.
    I will be getting a dehydrator if I get a big apple/pear/fig surplus.

    1. I would recommend mine (Ezidry Snackmaker) but it is a little on the small side. You can buy extra trays though, which I will probably get around to doing some day.
      I've heard good things about the Excalibur dehydrators though. Expensive, but very efficient apparently, and do large amounts. Which is handy when you really do have a lot of fruit to get through in the case of a mature tree or two of fruit.

    2. Thanks Bek, I will keep those names in mind.

  4. I drop my apple slices into boiling water for a few seconds then drain them and put them in the dehydrator. It stops them browning, saves on lemon juice and gets them nice and hot to start the drying process. I use a mandolin slicer to slice them.

    1. Excellent tip. I shall try that with the next few batches. I have a mandolin, but I find even its thickest setting too fine. But it is worth keeping in mind. Cheers!

  5. I make a lot of applesauce. I just cut the apple off the core (no peeling). I let them boil down and then use my immersion blender to blend the apple and peel up. It is faster than any other way of making apple sauce that I've done.

    1. Yes, applesauce. I like your method, and will definitely give that a go!

  6. I never peel my fruit either, nor do I treat it in any way, just slice and pop in the dehydrator. It is the winter snack standby here for school lunches - but I have to hide it to make it last until winter..

    1. I like the idea of simplicity, but I have to say I prefer the not brown look, so I treat with the lemon juice dip. What a healthy eating bragging point, having to hide fruit to make it last! :)

  7. they make life amazingly easier, don't they? though every now and then when i am using the gadget, it goes bonkers and just shaves away in the one spot :-)
    I have found it also helps to have a good radio program or TV show or real-person for company and to help distract you from the huge pile of fruit you have to get thru! chatting to someone or listening to a good radio show makes time fly by.

    1. For sure! I will keep an eve out for the bonkers moment. :)
      I agree on the background environment to aid big preserving tasks. I personally prefer music but occasionally a river cottage dvd for when I'm doing tasks requiring little attention.

  8. I attended a preserving class yesterday that provided evidence that citric acid works even better than lemon juice, and it doesn't leave a strong lemony taste on the apple like lemon juice does. They were delicious too.

    It's reinforced my resolve to get a dehydrator first.

    1. Interesting. Must remember for next year! I recall that the lemony taste wasn't very strong, but I prefer my apple flavour unadulterated so this would be better.