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Posted on Dec 13, 2007 | 42 comments

How to make apple rabbits

How to make apple rabbits

Apple rabbits (finished, #4 of 4)

Making apple rabbits (#1 of 4)

Making food into decorative shapes is a favorite children’s bento lunch technique in Japan, where it’s become an art form. Cutting fruit into fun shapes is one way to get your picky eaters interested in their food; I’m game as long as it doesn’t take much time or effort.

My three-year-old has recently decided that he doesn’t like apple peel, and so doesn’t like apple rabbits any more. In my farewell to apple rabbits the other day, reader Ahricat asked for some pointers on how to make them, so here’s a quick tutorial. Apple rabbits are basically just apple slices with the peel cut to resemble rabbit ears, and can be made in either full size or half-size to tuck into a bento lunch.

To make an apple bunny, first cut an apple into eight wedges and remove the core. With a sharp knife, cut a shallow V-shape into the skin about an eighth of an inch deep. If you’re making a half-size miniature apple rabbit, first cut the apple wedge in half so it’s short, then score a V-shaped incision in the skin with the tips of the ears pointing towards the squared-off, cut end. I like to start the tips of the ears about two-thirds of the way up the apple to expose a little apple ‘body’, but that’s just personal preference. Play around!

Making apple rabbits (#2 of 4)After making the V-shaped incision into the apple skin, run the knife just under the apple peel (a shallow cut), stopping at the base of the “V” halfway down the wedge. The excess peel should lift right off (you can snack on the leftover scraps if you’re inclined). If the peel doesn’t come off, run your knife along the “V” again until the peel is freed up. The remaining peel should look vaguely like rabbit ears.

The key to making the ‘ears’ curl up is to give them a short soak in ice water after cutting the peel (3-4 minutes, depending upon how thick you cut the peel). Feel free to omit this step if you’re running short on time, but you can build it into your morning lunch-packing routine pretty easily by starting the apple bunnies at the outset, and letting them soak in ice water while you pack the rest of your bento.

To prevent browning, I added lemon juice and a little Splenda to the ice water to tone down the sourness, but you could use lime juice, orange juice, cream of tartar, a ground-up vitamin C tablet, or even chili powder for the same effect. Dry the apple rabbits before packing, maybe affix a single black sesame or poppyseed ‘eye’ to the white side with a dab of honey for stability, and you’re set!

Making apple rabbits (#3 of 4)

Anyway, Biggie out and happy voting! I’m actually out of town visiting my husband’s relatives in Florida right now, and will be away at my Dad’s with only occasional Internet access next week (Internet cafe in Oklahoma with a three-year-old, anyone?). My apologies in advance for being far less responsive than usual!

* * * * *

We interrupt this bento tip with a final shameless plea.

If you have a moment today, please click over to the respected 2007 Food Blog Awards and vote for Lunch in a Box in the Best Theme and Best Family/Kids categories (no registration required). Voting closes in less than 24 hours (11:59pm EST on Friday, Dec. 14), and I’m up against blogs like “Fatfree Vegan” that are twice my size. Help!

If I win in either category I’ll take a deep breath, crawl out of my comfortable cave of anonymity, and post a photo of myself on my About page. Promise or threat? You decide. Now back to your regular bento programming! (EDIT: Voting has closed and Lunch in a Box won the award for Best Family/Kids Food Blog. Thank you!)

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  1. Pretty in all its simpleness :)
    Fruit/veggie decoration over the top is when carving out a pumpkin and writing in kanji on it, in the carving. Or carrot nets out of one carrot. I do the latter when I feel finickity and have time but the carving… I took a Japanese food class and then decided that carving out a pattern i kanji on a pumpkin or a firm melon was not for me.

  2. Biggie;-)
    Thank you so much for sharing this technique. I have seen other intricate apple designs such as checkers and always wondered how it the world it was done. Food should be visually pleasing and fun. I love your blog and of course voted for you. Good Luck! Keeping my fingers crossed!

  3. @1 from Jessica: OMG, Jessica — I’m with you on the intricate fruit/veggie carving. Nice in theory and all, but I can’t see myself actually spending the time to do it. It’d have to be a MAJORLY big event for me to attempt it (I think I’m just too lazy!).

    Once I saw a food decoration competition on TV where teams carved fruit Thai-style and made them into intricate, tall arrangements for buffets. Beautiful, but not for me.

  4. @2 from ksklein: Thank you for the vote, ksklein! I need all the help I can get!

  5. @4 from CFO: Thanks for voting, Chief Family Officer! I’m hoping to give the big blogs a run for their money, but we’ll see what happens…

  6. These are the absolute cutest pieces of apple – I can’t wait to try them! Thanks for all of the great links to food art :-)

  7. I voted for you Biggie! I’m having my husband vote too. Good luck!

  8. @9 from Wicked Good Dinner: Thanks Wicked, they’re quite simple!

  9. @10 from Beanbean: Thank you for your support with the awards, Beanbean. Every single vote helps at this point; it’s a nail-biter!

  10. Thanks again for sharing, Biggie, and for making the information on keeping fruit from browning handy. I got my votes in! Best of luck to you.

    I will be making these little bunnies this weekend. Too bad my mother-in-law isn’t visiting at the moment. She would be so impressed!

  11. @5, Biggie, I guess everyone has a creative outlet somehow. Mine isn’t pumpkin figurines either.
    I can see it before me how it could escalate beyond control. The child comes down for breakfast and finds you furiously carving away on a melon. Sorry, no lunch today, I am too busy carving a melon ;) ;) ;)

  12. I can’t get over how wonderful these box lunches of yours all look… it’s a toss up, whether to gush or drool! But hey, I can do both ;) and have voted you up in both categories. Good luck!

  13. Thanks for posting this tut. I’m finally inspired enough to give these a shot.

    Good luck with the polls! I’ve been following your posts since livejournal, and you definitely deserve it.

  14. @14 from Kaits: Thanks Kaits (Oh Bento!), I appreciate the help on the voting! I’m giving the award thing my best shot. If it’s not enough to come out on top, so be it — at least I tried my best and won’t have any regrets.

  15. @15 from Jessica: Your comment had me giggling so much I had to read it aloud to my husband and his mom. Bwah ha hah!

  16. @16 from Jen/domestica: Thanks so much for the kind words — I enjoyed your blog when I took a peek as well (thrifty and creative? Oh yeah.). Thanks also for the voting support — my hope is that it’ll be close…

  17. @17 from Jeanne: The apple rabbits really are simple and cute — good visual impact for minimal effort (hooray!).

    Thanks for the good wishes on the award! It’s hard to believe that I’m actually up for this after being one of the regulars on the LJ & Flickr bento boards… Initially my blog was just a place to store whatever I’d posted on the LJ Bentolunch board, but then evolved this past spring when I started doing “speed bento” tips & techniques on my LiveJournal. It feels very grass-roots, built with the support of the bento & lunch-packing community online.

  18. Ooh.. I love tips like this. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Wow~
    I think I’ll cut my fingers instead..

  20. @22 from Mer: My pleasure, Mer! Sometimes I forget to slow down and write about things I take for granted…

  21. @23 from Kalyn: I should think you’d be busy with Menu for Hope; you’re a regional coordinator! A huge task, but extremely worthy — good on you and thank you for taking this on.

  22. @24 from Cindy: Looking for some extra protein? ;-)

  23. I found your blog when looking into lunch ideas (tons of food allergies) and love it. I voted for your blog when I saw it on one of the lists – I just happened to have gotten there from Farmgirl’s blog first.

    You are really inspiring me to create bento lunches when I get back to work in the New Year!

    Pax,

    MLO

  24. no one has to twist my arm to get me to eat an apple (I eat at least one every day – I love them!), but if they were rabbit-shaped, I’d DEFINITELY eat one right away!! :0D

  25. I made some of these while I was babysitting today and the kids were so amazed. And they ate all of their apple wedges. :D

  26. Congratulations! Now, about that photo…

  27. @28 from MLO: Thanks so much for reading and voting, MLO — you helped me win the Family/Kids category! :-) I came at bento from a food allergy perspective when back in the States (husband was misdiagnosed with celiac disease), so packed lunches were a real necessity for him (not a luxury). It’s a good feeling to be able to help others in the same food allergy boat.

  28. @29 from VeggieGirl: Ha ha, yes, I’m a bit sad that Bug has rejected apple rabbits — they’re so much fun to eat (and made)!

  29. @30 from Kaits: Hooray, glad to hear the kids dug the apple rabbits! So simple, but so cute…

  30. @31 from Kalyn: I took a deep breath and put up my photo — it’s on the About Me page now. Surprised? ;-)

  31. Hi!

    I made those appel rabbits for a Christmas brunch and they were a real succes! Thank you for explaning how to do them!

    Sophie

  32. @36 from Sophie: Woo hoo, success! You know, yesterday I went to a mochi-pounding event at my son’s school and they had a HUGE bowl chock full of apple rabbits soaking in ice water for the children’s lunch. I took a photo — maybe I’ll post it later.

  33. @39 from chriesi: Glad you liked it, chriesi!

  34. What proportions do you use to make your acidulated water? I want to put cut-up fruit in my toddler’s lunches (she just started preschool yesterday) but so many fruits turn brown that my options are limited.
    Also, about how long does the water bath keep them from going brown?

    Thanks!

  35. I love these! Just that when I tried to make them, I forgot to soak in ice cold water…and ended up with bunnies with uncurled ears…

  36. I tried again with ice cold water, but the ears didn’t stick up as much as yours did, Biggie…
    I’m really stuffed as to how yours are so pretty and cute and mine is the exact opposite no matter how I try…is there actually a secret trick?

  37. @48 from Usagi-chan: Okay, quick tip on getting the ears to curl. The closer to the skin you can cut (i.e. the thinner you can make it), the more dramatic the curl. So if you’ve got a thick bit of apple remaining under the skin you won’t get as nice a curl. Hope this helps!

  38. Hi I’m doing a website for school about Japan and mainly Bento so I would like to use your pictures on my website. Thanks!

  39. My sister was terrible at making these for me, but now she’s better thanks to you!
    So thank you!
    Now I don’t have to eat really ugly apples anymore.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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