Oranges represent sunshine and bring warmth and light during long, cold winters. Not only that, but they have many benefits when it comes to food storage.
Who doesn't want a little sunshine in their homes when it's cold outside? Yet, while we may think of dried orange slices and see snowy Christmas days and cozy fall nights, they have so many other uses.
You've come to the right place, whether you want to learn how to dry orange slices for your pantry or larder. Keep reading to learn all about this classic technique.
Why Dry Orange Slices?
We can use dried orange slices in a variety of ways. They're ideal in garlands, whether for fall or Christmas, and you can use them to make your own DIY potpourri. The best part of drying your own orange slices has to be the smell.
It's a warm, bright scent that fills the home and warms the spirits. Even better than that? The smell lingers, even weeks after the oranges have been hung up or used. With that in mind, though, there are three major benefits to drying your own orange slices:
Makes us Stewards of the Land
The benefit of making your decorations, or things for the home in general, is that you are crafting with your own hands from natural things and being a good steward of the land that God gave us to cultivate. It's also a great way to support your local community.
You can buy your oranges from your local farmer’s market and use recycled materials to hang them up. They're brilliant for decorating your house without supporting the broken food system and supporting big corporations.
Best of all? It's an incredibly cheap way to bring some cheer into the home.
The Beauty of Nostalgia
Dried orange slices evoke memories of pine trees, plaid ribbons, and the smell of a wood-burning fire. The return to all things rustic has brought dried citrus as decor back to life. Nothing says old-fashioned on purpose like dried orange decorations!
Simple and Beautiful
Dried oranges are honestly one of the easiest ways to add a touch of classic simplicity to your decor, and it doesn't even have to be the holidays. They're easy to make, zero fuss required, and anyone can do it.
Especially because I have a handful of ways to make your own! There's sure to be one that’s right for you.
Methods for Drying Orange Slices
Each of these methods will require the same base level of preparation. You'll want to start by slicing your oranges into 1/4 rounds. Use a sharp serrated knife for this. The thinner your slices are, the quicker they'll crisp up. However, they won't look as good if they're too thin. Once cut, lay them out on a paper towel and blot dry.
Once dried, store your slices in a sealed mason jar to prevent any moisture from getting into them.
Oven drying is great if you've got a day at home, as they need someone to monitor them. Compared to air drying, the quality of the slices is fairly consistent.
- Preheat your oven to 200 °F.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay your slices out in a single layer on top of the paper.
- Bake for 2 hours, turning halfway through.
- Bake further in 15 minutes to ensure the orange slices are completely dry.
Note: For the best possible results, let your slices sit for 24 hours after removing them from the oven.
The air-dry method uses the fewest tools, so it's great if you don't have an abundance of resources at your disposal. You need a spot out of direct sunlight to hang them up.
- Take your orange slices (patted dry) and make a small hole or slice at the pith of the fruit.
- Run a piece of jute or baking twine through the tops of the oranges and hang them up in a cool, dry place.
- Check on them periodically, but let them do their thing. It can take up to a week or more for the slices to dry completely.
Note: Because of the nature of this method, don't be surprised if some of your slices warp or twist a little. This is all part of their unique character!
If you're interested in drying your own home goods and have the funds, a dehydrator is the way to go. Many dehydrators have temperature control settings that help preserve the nutrients in your fruit.
- Arrange your slices on the dehydrator trays, leaving enough room for air circulation.
- Set the temperature to about 125 to 140 °F (or the fruit and vegetable setting on your machine)
- After 2 hours, start checking your slices. It's helpful to flip them over halfway, but keep checking on them till they are no longer plump and juicy.
Note: It can take anywhere from 3 to 7 hours for the slices to dry completely, depending on their thickness. For more information about dehydrating, check out some of our other posts on drying.
Fun Ideas for Your Dried Orange Slices
Now that we've covered the basics of how to dry orange slices, let's get into the business of how to decorate with them. The options are plenty and the uses are many. Why not experiment with size and color? Try exploring combinations of blood oranges and bright yellowy citrus fruits with other natural elements, whether for home or food.
Oranges have been a symbol of Christmas for years. However, that doesn't mean they have to be limited to the festive season. If you're feeling a little blue, decorate your home with a dried orange garland. Make them part of a centerpiece or add them to a potpourri bowl.
You can string them onto a Christmas tree as rustic ornaments and even add them to a lush wreath. If you want to amplify the gorgeous orange peel texture and color, add hints of green and warm browns into your decor. Dried bay leaves complement the deep orange color beautifully.
Food and Drink
Add your orange slices to stews for extra flavor, or throw them into a jug of ice water for a subtle zing. You can also use dried oranges to flavor mulled wines and simple syrups and add them to a kombucha cocktail like this one.
Did you know you can even eat them as is? Dried orange slices can be put in a ziplock bag and taken along for a quick surge of energy if you're hiking or doing other outdoor activities. Dip half the slices into dark chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt for an extra special treat.
More Ideas for Hearth and Home
Dry orange slices don't need to be confined to the festive period, though they certainly make for easy and wholesome decorations. Ultimately, drying orange slices can be a comforting and rewarding practice that you can participate in at any point in the year.
If you're interested in learning more about botanicals and fruits, drying your own foods, and connecting with a farm-loving community, be sure to check out the Herbal Studio, a place to grow, create, and sip!
Read More about Dehydrating
- Best Food Dehydrator for Dehydrating Herbs
- How to Dry Herbs Without a Dehydrator
- Best Ways to Store Herbs after Dehydration
- Dehydrating Flowers, Fruits & Botanicals
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes in the Dehydrator
- How to Preserve Flowers for Tea
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