• When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown crab apples for the best quality and nutritional value.
  • Know when fresh crabapples are available in your state with this seasonal food guide.

  • If this is your first time drying or it has been a while, it is recommended that you read General Drying Information before beginning. 
    • Only tested recipes that assure adequate destruction of bacteria should be used for fruit and vegetable leather preparation.


1. Selection of Ingredients


  • Select ripe or slightly over-ripe crabapples. Do not use fruit that shows signs of decay or mold.
  • Use only fruit picked directly from the tree. Fruit collected from the ground may be contaminated.
  • 2 pounds fresh crabapples will yield 2 cups puree to make one 13" X 15" leather

Sweetener (optional)

  • Up to 1/2 cup corn syrup, honey, or sugar for each 2 cups of fruit (Corn syrup and honey are best for longer storage because they prevent crystral formation.) 

Pre-treatment Solution

Either of the following can be used to protect the color and help destroy bacteria during drying:

  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)  


  • Lemon juice

2. Equipment

  • Clean, food-grade dehydration equipment or oven with drying trays or racks that allow for good air circulation
  • Blender or food processor
  • Sheet pan or tray with edges
  • Food thermometer and oven thermometer
  • Plastic wrap
  • Storage containers
  • Airtight bags, plastic, or glass containers for refrigerator storage
  • Cutting board
  • Peeler and/or corer
  • Knife
  • Timer or clock

3. Prepare Ingredients

  • Thoroughly wash or scrub crabapples.
  • Core apples to remove seeds. Remove bruised areas.
  • Cut crabapples into smaller chunks.
  • Place fruit in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.  

    • Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon (375 mg) ascorbic acid for each 2 cups of pureed fruit.  

  • Optional: To sweeten, add up to 1/2 cup sugar, corn syrup or honey to each 2 cups of pureed fruit. 

4. Dry

  • Most dehydrators come with specially-designed plastic sheets for drying leathers; line with plastic wrap or use non-stick cooking spray if specified in manufacturer's instructions. Wax paper or aluminum foil should not be used.  
    • If drying in the oven, line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe).
  • Spread cooked crabapple mixture evenly over tray surface to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4-inch. Dry by dehydrator or oven.
    • Dehydrator drying: Place tray(s) into dehydrator. Set temperature control at 140° to 145°F or follow manufacturer’s directions. Drying time will be 6 to 8 hours. Test frequently for dryness (see test for dryness).
    • Oven drying: Set oven to lowest setting (140° to 145°F). If oven does not have low enough setting, beware of case hardening from too high oven temperatures. Place tray on oven rack. Check oven temperature periodically with thermometer. Apple leather should dry in up to 18 hours in an oven. (Note that the oven drying method is not as energy and cost-efficient as dehydrator drying.)

5. Test for Dryness

Readiness is indicated by both:

  • Touching leather in several places with no evidence of indentations
  • Lifting edge of the leather and peeling it back about an inch. If it peels readily, it is properly dried.
    • If leather cracks or chips, it has dried for too long, but is still edible.

6. Store

  • While slightly warm, carefully peel the leather from the drying sheet, working from the outer edges.
    • Roll in one piece or cut into bite-size strips.
  • Allow rolls to cool completely before wrapping in plastic. 
    • Place in clean, dry and airtight, food-grade storage containers. 
  • Store leather in a cool, dry, dark place. It will retain good quality for up to one year in the freezer, several months in the refrigerator, or one to two months at room temperature (70°F).

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