Colorful, smooth-skinned apples are an irresistible sign of fall, and a treat that we look forward to annually. These little beauties make a perfect quick snack, and of course a terrific present for teachers everywhere. We love eating apples plain, just as they are, and enjoying their crisp, crunchy bite and sweet juiciness.
Did you know that people have been munching on apples for millennia? The great-great grandfather of the modern apple, the Malus sieversii, still grows wild in Kazakhstan, where it originated. Today our favorite type of apple is the Rome apple, which originated in Rome, Ohio. We love eating these apples right off the tree- their thick skin and hint of tartness makes them delicious on their own. But this year, before we gobble up all our freshly-picked apples, we’re going to try out some new ways of using them, in both culinary and decorative applications. After all, apples are truly versatile and there are many ways to enjoy them. So while we love apples plain, just as they are, we are excited to try out some of these new ideas below:
New Ways to Uses Fresh Autumn Apples
We love this idea for an autumn wine or beer tasting party. Use the apple as a placard to label the types of beer and hors d’oeuvres you are providing. Or use them as place cards at your Thanksgiving table. All you need to do is cut a slit in the top of the apple, write the name on a piece of heavy card-stock, and slip it into the slit. If you would prefer not to cut into the apple, try writing the name on a piece of paper that you have cut into the shape of a leaf, punching a small hole in it with a hole puncher, then placing the stem of the apple through the hole. Or, you can even write directly on the apple using a paint pen.
Most of the time, when you buy dried fruit in the store, it contains sulfur dioxide in order to preserve its color and keep it from browning. A little bit of sulfur here and there is thought to be okay for most individuals- it is listed as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA. However, like most preservatives, you are probably a lot better off without it. In large quantities, sulfur dioxide is poisonous. Plus, in individuals with asthma, just a small amount of sulfur may trigger an attack. The good news here is that you can make your own dried fruit without sulfur. Dried apples are really delicious, as the drying process brings out their natural sweetness, and they retain a slight chewy texture. Follow these easy directions from Mark’s Daily Apple to make your own sulfur-less dried apples.
Nope, you didn’t read that incorrectly. Yes, it does say apples as shrunken heads. Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and we love the idea of using apples to create this funky and weird Halloween decoration. To make your own shrunken heads, pick a really nice, firm variety of apple, such as Fuji or Arkansas Black. Peel and core your apples. Then, use a sharp little paring knife to cut facial features into the white flesh of the apple. Cut the features larger than you think is necessary, because remember that they are going to shrink down. When you’re done carving, soak each head for about a minute in a mixture of 1 cup of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of salt. This will keep each head from browning. To dry out the heads and allow them to shrink, string them onto a knotted rope, allowing the knots to separate the heads and hold them in place, then hang this in a spot out of direct sunlight. They’ll be all nice and shrunken within about a week. We plan to make a spooky Halloween centerpiece by arranging these heads atop of our Window Sill Herb Holder. We’ll place some artificial spiders and centipedes inside each herb vase for an extra creepy effect. We also think the shrunken heads would look really cool hanging from a fireplace mantel, or stuck onto the ends of some long, gnarled twigs in a Roost Copenhagen Carafe.
We are all about preserving our garden harvest by making our own jams, jellies, preserves, and chutneys. This year, we ended up with a huge radish harvest, and made several batches of pickled radishes. While it stunk up the house for 2 whole days, we now have a great stock of pickled radishes to last us through the whole winter, while our garden is dormant. If you would love a way to enjoy the tart, sweet flavor of apples long after their peak harvest season, then you will love homemade apple jelly. It’s not too difficult to make, and is a super gift for the upcoming holidays as well. Take a look at this 5 minute video from The Instructables on how to make your own apple jelly. Make sure to follow directions on how to correctly sterilize your jars and lids for apple jelly that lasts, well, pretty much forever! If you would prefer, you can instead make apple butter, which only keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge, but is so delicious that it won’t hang out in your fridge for longer than that anyway.