Capture the whole house aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven by draping dried apple ring garlands on your mantel or banister. They will add beauty and fragrance to your Christmas, and this is one craft you will enjoy munching while you string it.
Firm, tart apples, as freshly picked as possible, are best for drying; good varieties to try are Jonathan and Rome Beauty. But no matter what apples you use, make sure they are not mealy or bruised.
You’ll first need to soak the apple slices in lemon juice or a solution of ascorbic acid (such as Fruit Fresh) and water to prevent them from discoloring as they are dried. You can add to their fragrance by sprinkling the slices with sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or mixtures of allspice and apple pie spice, but if you want your decoration perfectly white, leave the spices off.
For color, mix in lemon, grape, or magnolia leaves with the apples. Tie a pretty bow at each end of the garland, which will hide the string ends that you use to attach it; decorate the bows with jewels or crystal beads for festive sparkle.
To make the dried apple rings, peel and core the apples, and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Soak the slices in a bowl of lemon juice or ascorbic acid and water solution for 6 to 10 minutes, making sure the slices are submerged. Remove the slices from the solution, and pat them dry with paper towels. Dust both sides of the apples with spices, if you are using them.
Place the apple slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 150 to 200 degrees F. for 6 hours or until they are completely dried. They should be slightly pliable.
To make the apple garland, cut a piece of jute into a length about a foot longer than you need it; you can trim it after the garland is made. It is better to string several shorter lengths than one very long one. Cut holes in the leaves to string them, if using. Thread the apple slices and leaves on the garland, and tie a decorative bow at each end. Paula loves to add a vintage broach to each end for a little holiday sparkle!
Don’t want to decorate with your apples? How about just eating them!
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