Thursday, December 03, 2009

Apples and Oranges

...
Hedge apple, aka osage orange, and a bunch of other names, including monkey brains. Ew.
Latin name Maclura pomifera, native to North America
December 3, 2009
West Odessa, Texas


In spite of their fruity name, these "apples" or "oranges" are not edible!

I nabbed them from the sidewalk in front of a neighbor's house. I was seriously hoping that none would fall from the trees while I was out collecting because they are big and heavy. If they landed just right could probably knock a person out. I wanted to try drying them like I remember my own grandmother doing back when I was a kid. I don't recall what Grandma ended up using them for, but me, I'm thinking they'd be lovely in a garland for my Christmas tree this year. Every year I have a theme. This year my tree is going all natural -- in spite of the fact that my tree is fake.

I thought I'd write a bit about the process, although there is not all that much to it.

The exterior is a bit sticky and whatever the sticky stuff is takes a goodly amount of soap and a little scrubbing to remove from surfaces like my cutting board and knife. The fruit center is very fibrous and hard to slice through, causing me to lament having sold my electric knife in a garage sale. With persistence, though, I learned to cut a little, then rotate the hedge apple in order to get the most uniform slices. When done, I rinsed the slices because it oozed white stuff. Turns out, that stuff is a form of latex, so those with sensitivities wouldn't want to try this.

I think my grandmother must have used her oven on a low heat to dry them, but I have this stackable dehydrator and find it very convenient.

While drying, some slices will form a cup shape which is quite pretty. I don't know why that happens, but wish I could force the shape -- the dried cupped shape on a wire stem would be beautiful in a seasonal floral arrangement.

There you have it, everything I know about drying osage oranges, aka hedge apples.

4 comments:

Bobbie said...

A natural tree will be lovely! I can't wait for the post on it.

Here is exactly what Grandma used them for:

"While drying, some slices will form a cup shape which is quite pretty. I don't know why that happens, but wish I could force the shape -- the dried cupped shape on a wire stem would be beautiful in a seasonal floral arrangement."

Sylvia said...

I wanted to get some of these this year! They smell very nice. Chris and I was driving in town one day last fall and I had him go around the block because this caught my eye. We stopped and grabbed a few. They smell very nice and mine actually rotted but I gave Jerry a few and they dried very nice and still smelled good. I can't remember where we found them dang it! I am sure they are around here some where.

Sylvia said...

I should have said we were driving. oops!

jomamma said...

We have always called them Horse Apples as most people up here in North Texas and Oklahoma do. I love their neon green color. Up here they grow to the size of cantelopes. I never thought of trying to cut one, we just always used them for target practice with the .22g at 4-H Shooting Sports.