THERE’S MORE TO THE HUMBLE APPLE THAN JUST A SWEET AND CRUNCHY SNACK.
MAKE THINGS SMELL NICE
Take a leaf out of your nan’s book and please your snout with a bowl of homemade potpourri. Thinly slice and gently dry apple pieces in the oven on a low heat, then mix in your favourite scents – orange slices and cinnamon sticks perhaps, or pine cones and peonies. Spritz the lot with a few drops of essential oil, if you want. Then strategically place sachets on your showerhead, inside a lampshade or in your sock drawer and enjoy the sweet smell of fruity victory.
SOOTHE YOUR SKIN
Forget an apple a day – try an apple face mask every week or so. Not only a hardcore moisturiser, this fruity superpower is also capable of calming acne, fading scars, treating puffy eyes and soothing sensitive skin. Magic! You’ll find a whole host of recipes online, or simply mix apple purée with a little honey and cinnamon. Daub across your face, wait 15 minutes and rinse. Easy as (apple) pie.
RIPEN OTHER FRUIT
Chomping down on a greenish banana or hard-as-nails nectarine is the pits. To avoid chipping a tooth next time, stick your underripe fruit and veggies in a paper bag with an apple for a few days. Apples gently spew out ethylene gas as they mature, a natural plant hormone that sets off the ripening process for fruity friends in the vicinity. Which also means you’ll want to keep apples away from super-ripe fruit, lest it all go a bit pear-shaped.
CARVE HOMEMADE STAMPS
Want to delight your pal with thoughtfully homemade wrapping paper? Keen to DIY a party tablecloth? Need to keep a small human busy for a short while? Lop an apple in half and let it dry for an hour or two, then get stamping. This can be as basic as painting the two halves and dabbing them all over paper or fabric. But if you’re feeling extra crafty, you could carve out a more intricate masterpiece instead. The shape of your bestie’s face, perhaps?
ABSORB EXCESS SALT
Next time you accidentally dump far too much salt in your grub, hold the swear words and go find an apple instead. Dropping half a peeled pomme into soups, stews and curries while cooking is just the ticket. The flesh soaks up some of your ‘whoops’ seasoning while also leaching out just a touch of sweetness, helping rebalance flavours into something you might actually want to eat. Same goes for ‘crap, these are spicy’ chillis or when all you can taste is cumin. ...................
FERMENT APPLE VINEGAR
Don’t let the hefty price tag on a puny bottle of apple cider vinegar put you off. Make your own version at home instead, using apple bits you’d normally chuck out: peels, cores and even bruised chunks. Boil a litre of water and dissolve in four tablespoons of sugar, then let it cool. Throw about a kilo of apple scraps into a wide-mouthed jar, cover with the sugar water, then wait anywhere from a week to a month, giving it a stir when you remember. When it tastes like vinegar, it’s ready to use – as a household cleaner, drizzled over salads or as a conditioning hair rinse. ...................
CREATE A CANDLE HOLDER
With their squat butts and ability to stay upright, apples are just right for holding tealight candles – hoorah for less burn marks on your tabletop. But take note: firm apples are best for avoiding mush as your centrepiece. Simply draw your candle’s circumference at the top of an apple (over the stem), cut that bit out with a knife, and liberally douse the hole in lemon juice to prevent browning. Then slip in your tealight, strike a match and prepare for some fruitful party discussions. ...................
SOFTEN ROCK-HARD SUGAR
Brown sugar often seems intent on petrification, turning so effectively to stone that even your bravest of spoons will fold at the pressure. As odd as this sounds, a humble apple slice chucked in the sugar bag can work wonders. Seal overnight and by day’s break, you’ll be ready to bake. Same goes with preventing just-cooked cakes and banana bread from rapidly turning to bricks – a halved apple in the container releases moisture that keeps baked goods fresher for a few extra days.