Introduction: Creepy Citrus Snacks: Shrunken Heads and Spooky Octopoda

Now I know how much of a struggle it is to get anything even vaguely healthy into your kids around Halloween to balance out the increased intake in chocolate and candy. This year I've been working on simple snacks that elebrate the spooky season while keeping the Vit C levels up! The kids love them!

Mandarins are a solid favorite at this time of the year and there are plenty around. This instructable shows you how to make simple, mostly healthy, shrunken heads and octopus/jellyfish for you and your family and friends to enjoy.

Note: These treats do need to be made and eaten in reasonable time - the mandarins dry out quite quickly, so unless you want to use them as kinda gross decorations, eat them quick!

Step 1: What You Need


Sharp knife

Steady hand


Strap liquorice or similar candy

Assorted candy for decorating

Some kind of edible glue - you can make icing/frosting or sugar glue. I just used good ole Nuttella as the time between making and eating was relatively short!

Food grade string (I used dental floss)

Food colouring and water

Step 2: Preparing the Fruit

Choose nice firm fruit to start with. You do not want the skin falling off as you peel it back!

Turn the mandarin upside down and using your knife cut a series of short cuts radiating out from the base

Use the tip of your knife to lift one newly cut corner out and carefully peel it back in a strip to the top of the mandarin, but leaving it attached when you get there - trying not to break it off on the way, but don't worry too much if you do, it just adds to the effect!)

Repeat with the remaining corners until your mandarin looks like an octopus with its arms in the air :)

Step 3: Decorating: Colouring

If you want to try colouring the fruit with food colouring, this does work to some extent. You need to remember your fruit is orange to start off with, so you are not going to be able to do an awful lot with it!

The two blue/green octopuses in the first couple of photos were submerged in a container of water and blue food colouring, then left to drain and dry out a bit.

I tried working with the first one right out of the water, but everything was too slimy to stick! There is a balance between letting them dry so you can stick things on, and them drying out too much and the rind breaking when you try to work with it...

Step 4: Decorating: the Hairdo

If you want to turn your mandarins into shrunken heads, you need to work quite quickly to tie the hair up into a top knot. The peel/rind dried out quite quickly and gets very brittle.

Cut yourself a suitable length of string (or floss in my case) and set it to the side.

Holding the fruit in one hand carefully gather the rind in the other and gently squeeze it into shape. Some bits might break off, but thats ok - less bulk in the hairdo! Once you have it how you would like it, secure it by tying the string around to hold it in place.

I tried holding the hair in place with my strap candy, but it was too hard to get it tight enough and to get it to hold on!

You could try and cut the peel into thinner strips with scissors, but I likes the chunky torn look.

Step 5: Decorating: Elevation

If you want to make flying octopus, or jellyfish you can do so by threading some of your string through the peel and up though the middle of the fruit. I did think that I might need a washer of some description to hold the string and stop it from slipping all the way through, but it doesn't seem to need it!

Step 6: Decorating: the Details

Once you have your shape, colour and overall structure of your creepy snack sorted, it is time to start decorating.

I sliced gummie straps into single strands and cut them into small sections for the eyes and mouth of the shrunken heads. I used the tweezers to pick the wee bits up , dip them in the nuttella and stick them to the face.

The eyes were other candy sliced thinly through and dipped in nuttella before placing on the fruit.

The kids enjoyed helping me with the decorating and eating the result!

Halloween Contest 2018

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2018