a cat exploring the apple drying barn
The Hauser dryhouse at
Horne Creek Farm.

Dried apples are lighter, sweeter, more compact, and far less perishable than fresh apples.  Farmers preferred to dry tart apples that ripened in the long hot days of August when sun drying was possible.  Favored varieties included Maiden’s Blush, Horse, Ben Davis, and Sweet Winesap.  After peeling and coring the apples, they were sliced  vertically into six or eight pieces.  The fresh apple slices were placed on clean cloths, screens, or on sheets of brown paper.  The cloths were laid on the ground or on the roof of a woodshed or porch.  The apple slices were left in the sun for several days until they had turned brown and leathery.  Some farmers (like the Hausers) had a dryhouse for drying apples.  The apple slices were placed on wooden trays inside a small log building that had a rock furnace in its interior.  A controlled fire was set to heat the dryhouse to a low temperature: just enough to preserve the fruit without scorching it.  The process took about a day.