Looking for something spooky to decorate your place with, but all the ugly cheap plastic decorations sold at the Halloween shop just seem too cheesy?  How about  decking out your room with shrunken heads! Okay, well not real ones. One of the easiest ways to freak people out is to create little shrunken heads, or at least little baked apples that look like shrunken heads.

Photo courtesy of blogs.fingerlakes1.com

Photo courtesy of blogs.fingerlakes1.com

All you’re going to need is:

– The largest Granny Smith apple you can find
– 1 cup of lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon of salt

To make:

1.    Peel the skin off the apple
2.    Draw a face on it with a sharpie, the more grotesque the better (don’t forget the apple will shrink, so make facial features larger than you want them to be)
3.    Carefully use a knife to carve out the features of the face
4.    Mix the lemon juice and the salt
5.    Soak the apple inside lemon juice and salt mixture for 15-20 minutes
6.    Remove the apple from the mixture and then either
a.    Hang the apple by a string to dry somewhere sunny, and as it dries it will begin to shrivel up
b.    Or set your oven to its lowest temperature, preferably less than 200 degrees, and leave it there for 4-6 hours, or until it is completely dry and wrinkled
Note: It’s important that the apple is completely dry so that it won’t become moldy.
7.    For a scary finishing touch, take a couple grains of rice, and stick them into the apple to look like teeth.

Science side notes:

So why do we soak it in lemon?
When the apple is peeled it is exposed to oxygen. This starts a chain-reaction chemical process in which an enzyme in the fruit’s inner tissue, polyphenol oxidase, begins to deteriorate. This slowly begins to turn the apple brown during a process known as enzymatic browning. To neutralize the enzyme, all you need to do is introduce an acidic solution, just like lemon juice. By soaking the heads in lemon juice, we prevent them from turning brown and rotting,

Why do we bake it?
Baking the apple causes the water inside to evaporate, which is why the apple shrinks and shrivels up, giving our shrunken heads the old wrinkled skin look.  Also, making the apple drier on the inside will prevent it from growing mold, which is honestly scarier than a shrunken head.