The ever-amazing Louisville Zombie Walk is just around the corner. Once the Derby City kicks off the shambling season, undead will start rise up and walk the streets of trendy cities across the country. You need to prepare. And by “prepare” I mean “get ready to gross everyone out by biting into a realistic human heart.
You’ve tried it all before. The jello brain, the heart shaped tarts, the stringy smoked turkey leg. None of them held up to the rigors of convincingly shambling your way through a zombie walk. You need something sturdy enough to keep its shape every time you drop it, something edible enough you can disturbingly bite into it in front of onlookers, and something that honestly looks like a human organ. Welcome to beets.
Zombie Walk Bloody Human Heart
1 heart sized red beet
2 cups dark red wine
1 cinnamon stick, bruised
½ cup brown sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
Stop whingeing. This isn’t the Russian Revolution. No one is asking you to eat raw beets while your family slowly dies of consumption.
Beets have become my go-to heart shaped substitute. They have a satisfying heft to them, much like a real heart. The dark, bloody color is a deeper, more coagulated red than you see in grocery counter meat. Best of all, they’re dirt cheap and can take an amazing amount of abuse.
While everyone else is coddling their precious and fragile jello brain, you can simply stuff your beet heart in a pocket. Or, you can get into a fight with another zombie and throw the heart at them to distract them from precious brains. It really doesn’t matter. That beet can take a beating.
To prepare your beet, all you need to do is pick one about the right shape and peel it. Honest. I prefer an up and down motion. The way you peel your beet will influence the apparent muscle lines on the surface. Play with a spare beet or two. The look is transfixing.
Before you peel your beet, take a good look at the dense stems at the top. Don’t they already look like aorta for your heart? You can leave them as-is or carefully trim the mass down to 4 convincing arteries – your choice.
If I’m carrying around a beet heart, I like to have a lot of tasty blood I can lick off my arm just for show. The stuff they sell at costume shops is great for overall effect, but even the allegedly edible mint blood tastes terrible. Entirely by accident, I discovered my favorite pear poaching solution makes great zombie blood.
Normally, I’d say to only cook with what you drink but you’re about to add a bunch of sugar and a little spice to this wine. Get a good, dark Malbec or Shiraz, but don’t spend more than $10 on it. In the spirit of a post-apocalyptic setting, I recommend a cube of boxed wine. Not only do they stay good for 30 days after opening, but you can also hide the bladder somewhere in your zombie costume and offer your fellow undead drinks while shambling through the streets.
Mix your wine, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring the whole mess to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until reduced by about half. You should now have a deliciously thick, bloody red, slightly thin syrup. If you want it a little thicker, just whisk together 1 tbsp cornstarch with ¼ cup cold water then slowly add that to the mix, whisking well until everything is completely blended. Let it cool completely. You can now pour it into a plastic bag and stuff it into a pocket.
When you’re out at the zombie walk, surreptitiously dip your peeled beet into the sauce whenever you see someone with a camera. Now catch their eye and and slowly lick it off. Slower. People are watching. That’s right. Now moan a little. You’re almost there. A little more practice and they’ll believe you’re really dead. Just keep telling yourself that.
If you only need a little fake blood, this stuff keeps its color pretty well. You can use the edge of a brush to flick it all over your costume, as though you caught a little blood spray. It also dribbles wonderfully down your chin and onto your zombie rags. Suck in a hearty mouthful and spit it on a fellow zombie’s chest for a great bleeding wound effect. Since it’s meant to be edible, there’s no problem with you constantly licking your lips. I recommend double bagging it and packing a straw. (A bloody straw full of lickably sweet, viscous redness also makes for great photo ops later when you appear to be drinking straight from a victim’s chest.)
The good news is this blood is tasty, vegan, biodegradable, and ounce for ounce cheaper that the stuff at Halloween shops. The bad news is while it’s perfect for urban environments, I don’t recommend it for zombie walks out in the woods. If you’re too far from the protective comforts of asphalt, the sugar in it will attract insects who now believe your rotting corpse is as delicious as a fresh human brain.
Send us photos of your beeting human hearts and we’ll share them with the rest of the undead minions here on Kitchen Overlord.