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The Passionate Gardener: Apples!

by Karyn Ames

Master Gardener

New Mexico Certified Nursery Professional

HUERFANO- As I drive around town I notice piles of apples under trees absolutely laden with fruit.  All of this bounty seems to be courtesy of all of the summer rains.  What are we to do with at least some of these apples?

    The obvious answer is to eat them.  How about apple pie, turnover, fritter, upside-down cake, sauce, butter, jelly, jam, cider, juice, chutney, casserole, dumplings, bread, crisps, pancakes, syrup, salad, vinegar, or compote? Or how about apples stuffed, baked, poached, fried, grilled, dried, or candied?

    I don’t know about you, but I am not that fond of standing over a hot stove.  The abundance of the fruit makes me want to do something simply silly with the apples.  Here are some crafty ideas.

    Make a stamp.  You can turn apples into decorative stamps by slicing the fruit in half horizontally.  Inside is a star shape that can be pressed into fast-drying paint and applied to paper to make prints, cards, or wrapping paper.  Or, with a small knife, cut a design into the flat surface and use your creation as a stamp.

    Make “shrunken heads.”  These puckered up apple heads can look downright creepy as Halloween decorations.  Large apples are easier to work with than small apples for this project.  First, peel the apple.  Then start carving a face into the apple.  Keep in mind that you will be carving inward and around the most prominent facial features (the nose, brows, cheeks, and chin).  You can push a clove into the center of each eye.

    Next, soak each apple head for 10 minutes in a mixture of 4 cups cool water, 2 tablespoons of salt, and 2 lemon wedges.  This will prevent your heads from becoming moldy.  Hang your head from a string and allow up to 2 weeks to dry.  You can glue rice grains in the mouth for teeth and dress up and display your heads in any way that strikes your fancy.

    Create a candle holder.  Core or hollow out the top of an apple to accommodate the size of candle you will use.  The smell of the lighted candle and the apple are, indeed, the scents of autumn.

    Whip up a facial mask.  Combine one grated apple with honey and a little uncooked oatmeal.  Smooth this mixture on your face and rinse it off after 10 minutes.  This facial is good enough to eat.

    Whip up a smoothie.  Here’s a treat you don’t have to cook.  In a blender mix peeled and chopped apples, apple juice, ground cinnamon, and vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.  Toss in bananas, peaches, or pears for a fruitier smoothie.  Yum.