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Shrunken Apple Heads




These shrunken heads, made from peeled, carved, and dried apples, are as spooky as the scariest Halloween masks -- and just as much fun to create. Martha transforms a Granny Smith apple into a truly frightening fruit; although any variety of apple will work, Granny Smiths are ideal for this project because of their round shape.


  • Firm, unbruised apple, preferably Granny Smith
  • Knife
  • Marker or pencil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Stick or branch


  1. Step 1

    Peel and core the apple.

  2. Step 2

    Using a pencil or marker, draw facial features, including eyes, a nose, and a mouth, on the apple; be sure to draw the features large enough so they won't vanish when the apple shrinks.

  3. Step 3

    Using the outlines as your guide, carve the apple to resemble a skull.

  4. Step 4

    Combine lemon juice and salt in bowl. Soak the apple for 30 seconds. Pat dry.

  5. Step 5

    Set the apple in a warm, dry spot; after several days, the apple will shrink, and the features will distort.

  6. Step 6

    Insert a stick or branch into the bottom of the head and place it in a vase.

Martha Stewart Living Television, 2007



Reviews (16)

  • Introit 26 Oct, 2011

    I tried to make one of these last year for Halloween. For some reason, my head didn't shrink very much. I remember, when having apple slices in school, they turned brown and shriveled very quickly, so I put it outside to expose it the the elements. It was out for a few days - then a Squirrel stole it! It was so funny, watching this squirrel run off with a tiny head in it's mouth! Trying again this year, but I think I'll keep them indoors this time.

  • CorrieS 15 Oct, 2011

    My 11 year old nephew and I really enjoyed doing this project for his upcoming Halloween party. They're drying out nicely!

  • screaminscott 24 Sep, 2010

    After carving soak in salt and lemon juice inside a zip lock bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible so the juice surrounds the apples. Leave in the fridge overnight. This works better than brushing on and uses less juice than soaking in bowl.

  • Artetech 30 Oct, 2008

    I love making this project. This is easy, inexpensive, green and healthy. Easy - apple and paring knife; Inexpensive - always available; Green - can be recycled to potpourri later; Healthy - you can eat the chippings while you carve. But the bottomline is it's fun, really macabre and good piece of conversation. My kids and guests love it.

  • MizzMoxie 21 Oct, 2008

    I made these with my 7 year old. It was soo fun! The thing is, they REALLY shrunk! Each one is about the size of a plum. Are they suppose to shrink that much or is it the apples we chose? We love them all the same tho.Will take IBCRAFTER's advice, and NOT core them next time. It made them difficult to carve without puncturing right thru. Theres less apple to work with too which is hard. And it only took a week for them to dry out anyway!

  • ibcrafter 21 Oct, 2008

    To ALucier,
    Mine lasted for years - do not core! A long-ago idea from Martha - after the apple dries, hang the apples on a dead tree branch, using fishing line or thread. It worked to hang them from the stem as the apples get lighter when they dry.

  • YvonneHvr 3 Oct, 2008

    thank you for the memory refresher. we did this craft in school when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. I'll have to do up a few for my grandchildren there 2 and 3 and just love this sort of thing.

  • kickypants 3 Oct, 2008

    My Mom and I used to do these in the 70's as well. We never cored them. They lasted many years before we got tired of them. They're lots of fun to do with kids because you never really know what you'll end up with. Kids like to take a look every day to watch their apple get more character. Don't forget to give them ears too! It helps to keep the bent wire glasses on, if you make them.

  • jenniferbecknell 3 Oct, 2008

    How soon should these be done before a party? And, how long do they last once they are complete?

  • jenniferbecknell 3 Oct, 2008

    How soon should these be done before a party? And, how long do they last once they are complete?

  • meadresearch 3 Oct, 2008

    Great idea! I'm thinking some of them need hair. ;)

  • georgethechandler 2 Oct, 2008

    using LINGUINE makes great teeth for these apple heads

  • janaiguana 2 Oct, 2008

    I think the last time I did these I did core the apples, if you're too close to your party, it does help them dry, but the ones that I did a few weeks ago, I left with the tops on because I think it gives them a great look. I don't recall a bad result from coring my apples. ???

  • janaiguana 2 Oct, 2008

    These last a good while. I'm going to start mine soon, as you want them to have enough time to turn dark and shrink. It takes a good week to see a big result. Use lots of the lemon salt water. They are fun and get a lot of attention.

  • mommio 2 Oct, 2008

    I've been doing these appleheads since the 70's. They last forever if dried properly. You can also pry the lips open and stick small white seed beads in for teeth or pry the eyelids open and put green beads in for eyes. You can also clean out your hairbrush and roll the hair up to make a toupee. In reading the above directions, I noticed it said "core" the apple. DO NOT CORE THE APPLE. On the video Martha did, she did not core the apple.

  • ALucier 2 Oct, 2008

    I'm just wondering how long these last... do they have to be thrown out eventually?