By Samantha Loo, Village Vancouver Community Food Resilience Administrator

While the days are getting shorter and colder, creating a warm home and making time to connect with friends and family is more important than ever. Apples and oranges that are leftover from fall are perfect for making low-waste decorations and drinks for the holiday season. Here are 3 ways that you can transform them into garlands and ornaments, simmer them in a pot to make your home smell warm and cozy or incorporate them into a warm drink. These low-waste crafts and recipes are great for setting the mood in your home or as holiday gifts for your loved ones.

Dried Garland

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  • Slice your apples and oranges into ¼ inch slices with the rind and peel on.
  • Blot each slice with a paper towel or tea towel to remove excess juice.
  • Lay flat on a baking sheet – slices can be close but should not be touching.
  • Bake in the oven for 6-8 hours until they are dried through (*crack your oven door open to release moisture).
  • Once they are fully dried, allow them to cool completely.
  • Your dried apples and oranges are now ready to be strung or glued onto some twine and hung around your home. You can also attached them individually to twine to use as ornaments!

Apple and Orange Simmer Pot

A simmer pot is a great way to warm up your home with great smells when the weather starts to get chilly. While there are no rules regarding what or how much to add to your simmer pot, just make sure to use produce that may not be ideal for consumption anymore!

While you can use anything, a good combination of ingredients is:

1 apple quartered
1 orange – squeeze the juice into the pot and then quarter the rind
2-3 whole cinnamon sticks
1-2 star anise
1 teaspoon of sliced ginger
1 teaspoon of cloves

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients to a pot that can hold at least 6 cups of liquid, and fill the pot until everything is covered with water.
  • Simmer over low heat.
  • Add water when needed, and let the smell radiate through your home.

Note: this can also be done in a crockpot.

Spiced Cider

Whether you crave something warm for a wintery walk or a nice drink to share with some friends at a holiday get-together, this recipe is a great winter drink.

10-12 apples, quartered with peel on (use a mix of sweet and tart apples to create a better flavour profile)
2 oranges, WITHOUT peel
4 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg
2 inches of fresh ginger
2 teaspoons of allspice
16 cups of water
½ cup of sweetener, such as maple syrup

Instructions

  • Quarter your apples and oranges.
  • Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT SWEETENER in a large soup pot.
  • Simmer on low for 2-3 hours, making sure that your apples are cooked until soft.
  • Using an immersion blender or a potato masher, mash the apples and oranges against the side of the pot.
  • Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for one more hour.
  • Using a strainer, strain and discard the solids from your spiced cider.
  • Stir in sweetener and serve warm.
  • An apple or orange slice, as well as a cinnamon stick, make good garnishes for serving.
  • For an adult-friendly version, add a splash of rum.

We wish you a great holiday season, and see you next year!