It’s hard to believe that November is just around the corner; we’ve gone from late fall to early winter almost overnight! At this time of year, my mind turns to Christmas crafts. For gardeners, we seem to have an affinity for choosing projects that use natural materials from the garden. A couple weeks ago I trimmed some interesting branches and seed pods to use in flower arrangements. This year, even though our apple tree yielded a crop that could fit on a saucer, I was thinking that I’d like to try to make apple garlands.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have a lot of apples, you might want to try this craft, too. It’s a homey, beautiful project that we could hang up and enjoy all winter, not only during the festive season. And if you’ve made apple pies and apple jelly and applesauce and apple butter and still have apples that you don’t want to waste, here’s an idea to try!
Over the years, I’ve seen many “recipes” for drying apples, but this one seems to be the easiest. Wash and dry your apples: be sure to choose apples that are not bruised. Cut them into quarter inch slices. Make a mixture of water lemon juice and salt (about two cups of lemon juice and three tablespoons salt) and soak your apple slices for about twenty minutes. The acidic mixture will stop them from turning brown. At this time, take the apple slices out of the lemon juice and pat them dry.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees. Lay out your apple slices on a rack on a cookie sheet, but be sure they are not touching each other. If you don’t have a wire rack, you can crumple aluminum foil into a flat “platform” that will allow the apple slices to lay flat but still have warm oven air to circulate around your apple slices. Put your apple slices in the oven and let them slowly dry for six or seven hours. Turn them over every two hours or so. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the drying time so that they don’t burn. Don’t try and rush this process! Turning up the oven will not make it go faster! Did you ever watch the “Wingfield” shows on CBC? There was once episode where Walt was supposed to turn on the oven to 350 degrees at a certain time, and bake a casserole that his wife Maggie had made for the church bazaar. Walt got busy and forgot; by the time he remembered, it was late in the day; so his well-meaning brother-in-law suggested that maybe Walt should turn up the oven up to 700 degrees, and it would even out! Of course Walt knew that it wouldn’t work to crank up the heat… and the same rule applies here! Patience is the key!
Once the apples are dry, you can make all kinds of delightful projects like garlands, wreaths, or tree ornaments. Garlands are especially lovely when tied together with a natural-looking item like raffia or simple garden twine. Bright-colored yarn is also very cheery! And there’s something special about a “natural” craft, isn’t there! Very fitting for gardeners!
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their Annual General Meeting and Banquet on Wednesday, November 28 at St. Gerard’s Hall. This is a members only meeting, a great evening that includes a delicious supper, a silent auction, and a presentation about Mexico by Ed Sek. For more information on this meeting, please call Liz at 782-2830.
If you enjoy looking at home-made crafts, don’t forget about the household arts displays at this year’s Harvest Showdown. Homemade crafts have been part of the Yorkton Fair for over one hundred years, and now Harvest Showdown is keeping up that fine tradition. Gardeners can also display their produce, not only fresh, but also in pickles, jams and jellies. It’s always a wonderful event.
Till next time, have a great week!