Hedge apples grow on the osage orange tree, a thorny, shrublike tree that grows in the central United States. Hedge apples are neither apples nor oranges. These baseball-sized inedible fruits are fibrous, though they do resemble oranges once they are fully mature. The dried hedge apples are used in dried flower and fruit displays. They are usually sliced so that the fibrous texture is fully visible. Once sliced and dried, they resemble delicate flowers and add color to your arrangements.
Pick the hedge apples when they are still green and immature. Choose hedge apples that have unblemished skin and are firm to ensure that they are not discolored within.
Slice the hedge apple into ¼-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Cut carefully through the fruit so that you do not shred the pithy interior, as this ruins the look of the preserved hedge apples.
Place a broiler rack in a baking pan. Lay the slices on top of the rack in a single layer so they are not touching one another. Alternately, make small balls out of aluminum foil and set each slice on top of a foil ball. The drying hedge apples will mold around the foil and resemble ruffled flowers when dry.
Turn on the oven to the lowest setting. Place the pan of hedge apple slices in the oven and leave until the slices are dry, which takes approximately 5 hours. Oven-dried hedge apples may turn brown.
Air dry hedge apples to maintain their green color. Place the slices on a wire rack and set the rack in a warm, well-ventilated room for 1 week, or until the slices are completely dry.
Things You Will Need
- Serrated knife
- Baking pan
- Broiler rack
- Aluminum foil
- Wire rack
- Store the dried hedge apples in an airtight container until you are ready to display them to prevent moisture damage from ruining them.
- The milky sap inside the hedge apple may cause skin irritation. Wear gloves when slicing to prevent contact with the sap.
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