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Shrunken Apple Heads

Nothings says spooky cool like a bunch of shrunken apple heads decorating your home. Best of all they are a great way to get the whole family involved in a project that won't break the budget.

Here is what you'll need for the basic shrunken head. Options for creating more intricate heads are at the end of this article.

  • Apples (larger and firmer the better)
  • Apple corer (optional)
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • Cookie rack


  • Prepare the apple - Your first step is to either core or not core the apple. This may sound odd but coring is optional. Removal helps dry the head quickly but is not strictly necessary. Next you will want to remove the skin. You can leave some patches of skin in your design but the more skin you leave the longer the apple will take to dry and the more prone to rotting it will be.
  • Mix lemon juice and salt together in a large bowl. Soak each apple in the mixture for a minute or so. This step is to help preserve the apple and keep them from browning too much. Don't worry if the mixture doesn't cover them completely. Just roll them around in the juice so all surfaces come in contact.
  • Carve your apple - This is where you can get really creative. Carve whatever design you want. For a traditional design try making a perfect human face. For creativity carve a monster or an alien. Use a paring knife for large details and toothpicks for fine detail remembering that apples contain a lot of water. They'll shrink to half their original size.
  • After you've finished carving your head return the apple to the lemon juice and salt mixture to cover newly exposed areas.
  • Dry your apple heads - There are a number of ways of doing this. The simplest is to place them on cookie racks in a dry area turning them over every few days. They'll dry in week. If you live in a moist area like Daly City you'll want to place the apples on the cookie sheets and keep them in an oven set to its lowest setting until dry. If you find that the shrinking apples are loosing key details as they dry you can always touch them up with a knife or toothpick.


  • When your heads are near dry use a curved upholstery needle and thread to sew the lips of your apple shut like authentic shrunken heads.
  • Add hair from an old Halloween wig to your apple head to look more authentic.
  • Add long grain white rice for teeth.
  • Add whole cloves for eyes.
  • Color your apple head with charcoal or paint with food coloring.
  • Preserve your apple head with a coat of shellac or wood sealer.
  • Add witches hats or other clothing to make small dolls.


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