Drying Apples: Rings of Gold

 

Dried apple slices

Drying apples is surprisingly easy. Well, ok not easy exactly, but certainly not difficult. 

I picked a large bag of apples at a neighbour’s yard and brought them home to see what I could make with my new dehydrator. I started by using an old fashioned peeler/slicer to cut them up into rings. It’s pretty cool how it makes a spiral of the apples and removes the core, saving a ton of labour. 

If you’ve looked closely at the picture, you can see that I didn’t even bother to peel all of the apples. After about the third batch in the dehydrator I didn’t think it was necessary, and not peeling them saved me a significant amount of time and effort.

I soaked the apple slices in the requisite amount of Fruit Fresh preservative, which is supposed to prevent them from turning brown but frankly I saw only a small amount of difference between using it and not. It makes no difference to the taste what-so-ever, only the appearance. If I was making these for a gift I might be more concerned, but I plan to eat (almost) all of these myself. So there!

I then placed the slices in my dehydrator, careful not to overlap them. They took about 4-5 hours to dry at a setting of 120F. Voila, I had the most amazing dried snacks that will keep in the fridge for months should they be so lucky to last that long.

Note: I made apple fruit leather at the same time; for that blog post go here.

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Edible Garden Tour 2010

Ron Berezan Talks to the Tour Participants

This year’s Edible Garden Tour, hosted by Ron Berezan AKA The Urban Farmer, was held on August 14th. Meeting at Giovanni Caboto Park on a cloudy Saturday morning, fifty enthusiastic gardeners split into two groups and proceeded to visit ten amazing gardens distributed about the Edmonton area. Some of those taking part in the tour already had enviable gardens of their own, while others were planning for the day when they might.

The tour featured everything from backyard orchards to front yard vegetable gardens, and was brimming with inspiring ideas for both experienced and novice gardeners.

Each home on the circuit incorporated aspects of permaculture gardening; landscapes that work with nature to provide food, medicinal plants, and animal products and in a sustainable way. Permaculturists create a sustainable, productive environment through recycling, composting, reducing water needs and using microclimates to their advantage.

The forest garden is one example permaculture in action. Berezan’s own backyard is a testament to multi-layer design with stacking of canopy trees over shrubs and herbaceous plants followed by root and cover crops. Each layer in this polyculture interacts, creating a complex yet fundamental ecosystem.

A visit to the Mustard Seed Community Garden, aptly named “Peas Be With You”, demonstrated what can be done when a small plot of land is transformed into a neighbourhood garden space. Shared by both local residents and the homeless, the Mustard Seed garden produces food that is prepared and eaten by the green thumbs that participate.

We saw some amazing private gardens throughout the city as well. The fruit of years of grafting and nurturing were apparent in one homeowner’s apple orchard which featured trees drooping under the weight of as many as four different species of apple.

A Glenora area homeowner encourages people to slow down and smell the roses – literally. She has incorporated rest stops in her front garden and a nearby public access area with signs which invite people to stop and explore.

We met Roy Berkenbosch, winner of this year’s Front Gardens in Bloom (Edible Garden Category). Roy and his wife have transformed their front yard into an edible landscape full of beans, beets, and other culinary treats, while maintaining an attractive aesthetic.

I personally enjoyed our visit to a backyard apiary, although I have to admit I was worried that the bees might be able to smell my discomfort. As many as 50,000 bees inhabit this backyard beehive and it has already produced over 40 lbs of honey for the amateur beekeepers.

The 2010 Edible Garden Tour was an amazing private view into the yards of ordinary Edmontonians with extraordinary vision. I’m always inspired by touring other gardens, and this year was no exception.

I’m already working on plans to build a solar food dryer, rebuild my square foot raised beds to be more efficient, and I’ve dug my mom’s old canner out of storage so that I can experiment with canning more varieties of vegetables this fall.

Thanks to the Urban Farmer for hosting the tour. Here’s hoping that after Ron departs for warmer B.C. climes the tours continue. Permaculture is increasingly popular among those of us who enjoy the feel of dirt under our nails, and we can all use a little inspiration now and again.