There is a light dusting of snow this morning, really … just a skiff, but it’s enough to put us all in the Christmas mood. My fingers are cold and I’m thinking about that mitten project I’ve yet to begin for Christmas — but for today, I’m putting the finishing touches on our holiday decorations, and that includes my kitchen Christmas tree, one of my favorites.
As I do every year, I’m oven-drying fruit ornaments for my tree as I write this post. I can tell you, the apple “cinnamony” scent filling my kitchen right now is homey and wonderful on this frosty, cold morning. A cup of tea is steaming next to me.
I love an all natural tree in the kitchen. Filled with homemade gingerbread cookies tied with red gross-grain ribbon, bundled cinnamon sticks, dried apple and orange slices, strings of raffia, cloves and star anise drape along its festive branches.
If you haven’t dried apple slices, though it takes some time in the oven, the result is more than worth it.and
An added benefit, the apple slices are just as good to eat as they are festive. They make tasty and nutritious snacks to munch on throughout the holidays or add to other dishes like; granola, cookies, sweet breads, and cakes or to serve alongside roast pork, in salads … or even sandwiches.
How to Make Dried Apple Natural Christmas Ornaments
• Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch. Using a mandolin makes step even easier.
• Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheets and sprinkle with cinnamon. (You can skip the cinnamon step if you want plain apples).
• Bake for 1 1/2 hours and then flip each slice. Bake for another 1 1/2 hours or until completely dry and crisp. Timing will be somewhat dependent on the thickness of your slice. Once these apples are cool, they will not continue to dry and crisp. It’s important that this step be completed in the oven.
• Turn off the oven but do not remove the apple slices. Let them cool completely in the oven. As they cool, they will not continue to dry and crisp so make sure they are crisp before turning off the oven.
• String with raffia or ribbon and hang on your tree. Store the snacking slices in an air-tight container for up to a week.