Pumpkins and Halloween go together like strawberries and cream. However, we think there is room at the top for another fruit – the Great British Apple!
One of the positives of the autumnal celebrations in the USA is a general celebration of the apple. Yes, we do have apple bobbing but in the Autumn many supermarkets across the pond promote; local apple juice, cider, apple pies, candied apples and other apple delights. There are also many products with apple and cinnamon.
This more general apple celebration carries over into Halloween with shrunken apple heads!
How to make Shrunken Apple Heads
These spooky and ghoulish Halloween additions are incredibly fun to make and are a fantastic addition to your Halloween decorations. They are incredibly easy to make and allow for real creativity.
Here we explain how we made our shrunken apple heads:
1) Select your British apples. At this point think about the shape and the final size of the apple head. They will shrink and continue to shrink.
2) Next peel the apples. Before you take off all the skin think about the end product, perhaps you want some skin left as hair or to create some creepy effect. We left skin on one of our apples to build up the lips.
At this point a spoon might be a handy tool for scooping and shaping. We found that we only needed a knife and spoon. A spoon was particularly helpful for the mouths of our apple heads.
Preserving the Shrunken Apple Heads
3) Once your apples are peeled and ready it is time to make a solution to help preserve and shrink the apple.
We used a solution of water, salt, lemon juice and a dash of clear vinegar (perhaps apple cider or wine vinegar). We did not measure out particularly just made sure there was enough salt about 4 tablespoons, we also made sure the salt was properly dissolved so we mixed this first with boiling water then topped up with cold.
When your solution is ready submerge the apple heads. We left them for 10-15 minutes in the solution. They may float or rotate based on how you have carved them. So make sure you get plenty of solution on every part of the apple.
Remember now they have been in this solution they should not be eaten as they are now covered in salt and vinegar.
Order a box of apples from us directly
Enjoy fresh, cook up an appley treat and use some for carving your own apple heads
Drying the Apple Heads
4) Drying – Take from the solution and with kitchen roll or a cloth dry and remove obvious moisture. Then stand the apple heads to air for 5-10 minutes. A rack that allows air beneath would help here.
We then put them onto a tray in the middle of the oven on a low temperature (100-130 degrees) for 3hrs (We cooked bake potatoes at the same time to stop energy waste).
There are a few suggestions online about the oven drying process, some dangle them on wire while others place straight on the rack.
We found a tray was absolutely fine with them standing vertically, we just moved them occasionally from standing vertically to horizontal with the face up. We did this because the
Contact area with the tray can retain moisture.
Decoration of the Shrunken Apple Heads
5) Leaving them. We left them to dry further for 1-2 weeks. In truth this is not necessary as they were dry enough when they were out of the oven. But we had time and just left them and they have become more wrinkled and knarled. They are now preserved and so no mold should grow on them and they should continue to dry for months and years without a problem.
6) Further decoration – We left them as they are and mounted the apples onto a stick. But you can decorate further, giving them hair with artificial cobwebs or using rice for teeth.
7) Display – The world is your oyster when it comes to displaying your apple heads. But perhaps if you have a plant pot by the front door, or perhaps mount a few on a string?
As they are natural some put them into punch during Halloween but you may want to use less salt and just lemon juice.
Our one final tip is that it is worth experimenting with different things such as leaving the apple skin on or adding bits like rice as teeth as some will look scarier than others.