There are certain snacks that should only be eaten on a steep mountain trail after hours of sweating, climbing and hauling yourself up hills and rocky cliffs. This past weekend I spent two days doing just that in one of my favorite National Parks in the country, Mt. Rainier. Backpacking trips are one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny, summer weekend with friends and sadly the season for these glorious trips is coming to an end.
Typically my backpack, as well as my friends’, is filled with protein, carb and sugar packed snacks like trail mix, peanut butter filled pretzels, peanut M&M’s and high calorie meal replacement bars. As delicious and satisfying as these treats are on a good hike, the quantity at which it gets eaten probably outdoes the calories burned. So, to change it up a bit I brought a healthier snack alternative that’s perfectly light, delicious and stuff-your-face approved; apple chips. Once I had conquered the mountain and emptied my bag of fruity chips, I decided these little slices of heaven needed to become an all-the-time snack for home, work and everything in between.
Pick a low-key weekend morning or afternoon where you’ll be hanging around the house for a good 3-4 hours at a time, and bake a large batch of these apple chips for the week ahead. They take a few hours to get the desired crunch that is necessary to classify them as a ‘chip,’ so the more time you allow them to bake and rest, the better they’ll be.
5 Tips for the Perfect Apple Chip:
1. Don’t slice them too thick.
Aim for 1/4″ thick using a mandolin (not the instrument), or your sharpest knife and steadiest hand.
2. Lay them out in a single layer.
The less overlap of each apple slice, the more evenly and quickly they’ll bake; meaning you get to eat them sooner.
3. Use the right kind of baking sheet.
This recipe showed me that I need to invest in some more baking sheets! I had to use a rotisserie pan (with deep sides) and a glass casserole dish along with a standard baking sheet with no sides. The apple chips on the standard baking sheet turned out the best by far!
4. Don’t worry about coring the apple.
As you slice the apple into chip-like shapes, the seeds will fall out as you go. When the apples bake, the core will soften. Bonus: the center creates a beautiful star pattern in the middle of the chip!
5. Allow them to completely cool.
After hours of baking, the final touch to the perfect chip is allowing them to cool and harden further. The longer they cool, the crispier they will be.
Sprinkle your apple chips with cinnamon and sugar, pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. If you were looking for something to make your house feel like fall, the smell these golden rings give off while baking will transport you into a cabin in the woods with a fire roaring, Frank Sinatra singing and warm apple pies in the oven.
What to Bring to the Store
All you’ll need with you to reduce your packaging waste is:
- A reusable produce bag for your apples (unless you’re super awesome and go apple picking at a family farm!)
- 1-2 reusable spice bags for your desired toppings
As always, bring your favorite reusable grocery bag!
I’m happy to say that this recipe gets a 5, the highest of rankings on the waste meter, meaning ZERO WASTE was produced! Since you used your reusable bags at the store, there is no packaging that needs to be either thrown away or recycled. All you’ll need to do is compost all of your leftover apple scraps and call it a day!
- 4 apples, any variety (I used Jonagold and Braeburn)
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp sugar in the raw or organic cane sugar
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
- Slice your apples (no need to core them) from the bottom to the top, making sure each slice is no thicker than 1/4".
- Spread the apples in a single layer on a standard baking sheet (you might need 2 or 3).
- Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the apples, then place in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour, then remove, flip over, cinnamon and sugar the other sides and bake for an additional hour to 1 1/2 hours.
- Turn off the oven and let the apples continue to cook in the oven as it cools for an additional hour.
- Remove the apple chips and place them in an airtight bulk jar on your counter.
- You may need to bake the apple chips for longer to reach the desired crunchy consistency, depending on your oven.