Crispy Deep Fried Apple Chips
The Modernist Cuisine approach to making apple chips.
It took me a while to invest in the Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, but I haven’t regret joining the cult-like following of food nerds since. To be honest, I’m not even a reader. My sister was the reader in the family and I preferred television. I liked books with illustrations and size 16 font, but I grew out of that in university, when I finally discovered it wasn’t reading I didn’t like, it was reading stuff I wasn’t interested in I didn’t like. Anyway, I enjoyed my studies at school and beyond that I enjoyed reading about food.
The Modernist Cuisine set are the culinary bibles of today. It has saved me from so many mistakes in the kitchen and in my blog. It doesn’t teach me how to write better, but it teaches me the how and why things happen. I remember the first time reading the books and not being able to put them down. Every page was a new discovery and just like any good book, I couldn’t wait for the next chapter. In this case, there is no particular order, so you can jump around from volume to volume, which is actually practical when I need to refer to something specific.
It is a “geeky” and scientific book, but it’s approachable and understandable even for the home cook. I might be a bit biased and obviously you have to be somewhat interested in food to appreciate it, but I was sucked in. The feeling I got reading it was like discovering the world was round when everyone else thought it was flat. I’m not exaggerating.
Anyway, Modernist Cuisine is already “old news”, but the information, education and research provided is invaluable. It has helped me with kitchen experiments and blog posts, and these apple chips are an example of how I used it.
Apple chips. It seems like an easy thing doesn’t it? There are tons of recipes online for them and they all look similar. But the results? The same? You would think so, but no. To bake? Fry? Or dry? I’ve tried a few methods for apple chips, pineapple chips, and vegetable chips and they tend to turn out chewy. I was running my head into a wall experimenting with different methods, but thanks to Modernist Cuisine, problem solved!
In classic Modernist Cuisine style, it takes a few extra “advanced steps”, but the process is reliable. Their techniques are built around science and most importantly it delivers desired results so it saves time, energy and money in the long run.
The following post is by Brenda, my recipe tester and “sous chef” who helped me with my Social Bites #DinnerPartyYVR menu which included apple chips as a component to my main course.
My DinnerPartyYVR “Land & Sea” Menu
Click the course for the full recipe.
Hummus, Smoked Oyster & Honey Toasted Pecan Amuse-Bouche
Wild BC Salmon & Cauliflower Velouté with Maple Crème Fraîche & Crispy Prosciutto
BC Scallops with Vanilla Butter & Sous Vide Pork Belly with Acorn Squash & Cinnamon Apple Chips
Dessert: Hosted by third parties.
This menu was kindly sponsored by my friends at Organic Ocean, BC Pork, and SousVide Supreme.
The Modernist Cuisine approach to making apple chips.
“Potatoes get star billing in the world of chips, but we can lend other plant foods the texture needed to challenge the potato’s status. The technique below describes how to fill the vacuoles inside the cells of a fruit or vegetable with starch. This approach works well for porous fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers, apples, Asian pears, watermelon, pineapple, and celery root. Varying the thickness of the chips alters their texture; a thinner chip tends to be shatteringly crisp, while a thicker chip has a crunchy snap.”
— Modernist Cuisine, Volume 3: Animals and Plants
The 5 volume “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” is a behemoth; impressive and daunting in size, weight, and the amount of knowledge contained within. They are simultaneously reference books, cookbooks, encyclopedias, formulas, artistic photography, and more. I love to browse through them, randomly picking up nuggets of useful information and interesting facts.
Their detailed scientific approach to techniques and recipes is presented in an understandable way, and I think one of the most useful aspects of the books are the parametric tables. These tables were developed through rigorous research and testing by the Modernist team. They take one master recipe or technique and apply it to multiple possible ingredients and present it in a summarized table.
Want to know what cooking time and temperature to sous vide fruits and vegetables at? Volume 3 page 288. Brining time for a chicken breast versus a pork chop versus sweetbreads? Volume 3 page 172. How much of a specific hydrocolloid to use for creating hot gels of a certain texture? Volume 4 page 160. And so on for an enormous amount of applications. These tables are incredible resources, not only for the specific ingredients that they provide data for but there’s enough information so that you can extrapolate and adapt the technique to your own purposes.
Crispy fruit and vegetable chips, the Modernist way
One of the techniques and accompanying tables is for deep fried chips. Modernist Cuisine wanted to know if it was possible to get the deep crunch of potato chips in other fruits and vegetables. The answer is yes, and it’s surprisingly simple. See their online article for the full details, along with accompanying videos on their results using a watermelon. Volume 3 of the books includes a parametric table on how to achieve the same results with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
For the second course of #DinnerPartyYVR, Mijune wanted a crisp element to pair with the main protein and a deep fried fruit chip fit the bill nicely. Most fruit chips are made by dehydrating fruit slices but the texture tends to be chewy rather than crispy. Modernist found that impregnating starch into thin fruit slices via a vacuum before deep frying the chip had the desired effect. (Gotta love a recipe that uses “impregnate” in the description!)
The master recipe itself is very simple: slice the fruit at the thickness specified in the table, dip the slices into a starch slurry solution, vacuum seal the slices, rest briefly, and then deep fry for specified time in the table. It’s the starch that allows the fruit to fry up to a crispy texture but all of the water must still be removed during frying, otherwise the chip will end up chewy rather than crispy crunchy.
The trick is to get the fruit sliced thinly enough but a mandoline makes quick work of that task. (If the slices are too thick, they will still fry up crispy but it will take longer to cook off the moisture. The book suggests dehydrating delicate and high water fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and cucumber. This can be applied to any fruit or veggie chip.) When slicing the apples, we decided to leave the peels on and the cores in for a more attractive appearance. Interestingly the peels made the apple chips curl at the edges, and the effect was quite pretty. The end results were spot on – the texture and crunch of potato chips but with the taste of apple!
Crispy Deep Fried Apple Chips
– adapted from Modernist Cuisine
2-3 dozen crispy apple chips
- 2 whole apples
- 125g (½ cup)
- 30g (3 Tbsp) potato starch
- 4 cups of oil for deep frying
- ground cinnamon for dusting
Notes for success
- Leaving the skin on causes the apple chips to curl as they cook.
- Fry a single test chip to see if the recommended 100s is enough time to get a crisp texture. Slices that are thicker than the recommended 1mm (1/32”) will take longer to fry to a crisp texture, up to 3-4 minutes.
- The chips will be at the right doneness when they stop releasing bubbles in the frying oil and begin to look transparent.
- The chips can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container for several days without losing their texture.
Mix the water and cornstarch together in a shallow bowl.
Wash the apples and dry them well. Leaving the apples whole and with skin on, slice them evenly to a thickness of 1 mm (1/32”). Use a meat slicer, if you have one available. Alternatively, use a mandoline. Remove any seeds from the slices but leave the rest of the cores in.
Starch coated apple slices, vacuum sealed
Dip the apple slices in the starch slurry, and arrange them in one layer in a sous vide bag. Vacuum seal the bag on high. A full vacuum impregnates the slices with starch, yielding a texture similar to that of a thin potato chip.
Allow the apple slices to sit in the bags for ~30 minutes.
Remove the apple slices from the bags and pat them dry on paper towels.
(Optional) For delicate fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and jalapenos, dehydrate the starch coated slices at 50C (122F) until completely dry, up to 2 hours.
Heat the oil in a deep pot to 165C (330F).
Deep fry the apple slices 6 or 7 at a time for ~100 seconds until crisp and golden. The chips will stop bubbling and start to look transparent when they’re done. Test an apple chip for crispness. If it is still chewy, fry the slices for additional time.
Drain the slices on paper towels and lightly dust with the ground cinnamon.