Have you ever wondered how to create the most stunning dried citrus slices without using a dehydrator? It looks difficult to make but it is the most easiest thing you can make ahead in preparation for holiday season.
Dried citrus slices have many uses. Use these slices as an embellishment for Christmas decorations by making a garland to hang over your fireplace, or by adding it on top of wrapped Christmas gifts. When it comes to culinary usage – I prefer to add it to my herbal tea or iced tea.
I also use it on charcuterie board, in soups, stews, along with mulling spices, as cocktail garnishes, or dip them in drinking water to simply flavor it. Moreover, dried citrus slices make for a great addition to the potpourri mix bag. It is perfect gift idea for holiday season to keep one’s home smelling sweet with fragrance of fall!
ORIGIN OF DRIED CITRUS SLICES
Since the nineteenth century, one huge part of the Christmastime custom has been ORANGES along with another popular custom of “hanging stockings” near the fireplace. At that time, oranges were seen as rare, exotic and expensive fruit. During the great depression, families with modest means deemed gifting oranges as an extravagant idea in itself, as oranges were immensely costly. And spending money on lavish things gave families a sense of affluence!
Oranges were high in demand till orange production became common across other parts of the world and the US, especially in the mid-west like Oklahoma. Today, oranges are seen as a far more cost-effective alternative to other expensive gifts, making it a budget-friendly option.
Here are my top three reasons to celebrate ORANGES as an ode to Holidays & Christmastime! Firstly, they are extremely beautiful. Secondly, they are inexpensive (not considering olden times, which would probably burn a hole into your pocket). Thirdly, it’s citrusy fragrance is to completely die for!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE CITRUS SLICES?
The one & only ingredient that is needed to make this recipe is, ORANGES!! It’s amusing to even call it a recipe, which got me thinking – What other, one ingredient recipes are out there? Actually, any fruit that we dry & preserve would be one ingredient recipe. Think dried pineapple slice, mangoes, kiwis, cranberries, apples, etc.
Other tools and equipment needed to make dried slices are baking pans, paper towels, parchment paper, mandoline slicer or a sharp knife, oven or dehydrator. And string, dull threading needle, etc. to create decorations out of the dried slices.
WHAT OTHER CITRUS CAN I DEHYDRATE?
You can dehydrate below citrus fruits as well. Please keep in mind, this is NOT a comprehensive list of the citrus fruits available around the world:
- Naval oranges
- Blood oranges
- Desert lime
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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DEHYDRATE CITRUS SLICES?
- OVEN – Drying time varies from 3 hrs. to 4 hrs. in the oven at 200℉ , depending upon how thick you slice the citrus. If you set the oven temperature at 175℉, the total drying time increases.
- DEHYDRATOR – If you are using a dehydrator, drying time again depends on thickness of slices and the temperature set to dry. It usually is somewhere from 3 to 7+ hours.
Dried Citrus Slices
- 3 Naval oranges
- 2 Lemons
How to Dehydrate Orange Slices Using the Dehydrator
- Slice oranges with a mandoline slicer so that they are anywhere from ⅛" to ¼" in thickness. Keep in mind the thinner they are the less time they'll need to dehydrate.
- Arrange orange slices on dehydrator trays, leaving room for air circulation.
- Set the dehydrator to 135° F (fruit/vegetable setting). Start checking the orange slices after 2 to 3 hours.
- Depending on the thickness of the slices, it can take anywhere from 3 to 7 hours for the slices to completely dry. Sometimes it’s helpful to flip the orange slices over to the other side halfway through the process.
How to Dehydrate Orange Slices Using the Oven
- Slice the oranges into thin slices, from ⅛" to ¼" in thickness.
- Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven at 200° F for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the thickness.
- If you want to make the orange slices even sweeter, you can sprinkle the slices with some brown sugar or white sugar and few of your favorite spices, (once the orange slices a little warm to touch).
- I use the whole orange including the orange peel from the top and bottom of the orange. I grind those pieces into a powder to use in the place of orange zest in baked goods.
- If the slices are cut to 1/8″ thickness, each orange will give about 6-8 slices.
- If the slices are cut to 1/8″ thickness, each lemon will give about 4-6 slices.
HOW LONG WILL THESE CITRUS SLICES LAST?
These slices will last at least 6 months, only if they are completely dry. Store them in an air tight container in cool & dry place. In case you see them turning sticky or if there is an indication of moisture, please discard them as mold will quickly form on them. I would advice against re-drying sticky slices and consuming them, as it is not an healthy choice (you do not know if mold has already set in, why to take a chance with your health!!).
- Another variation: Before putting the slices in the oven, spread them in a single layer, and generously dust with white sugar or brown sugar. Bake until the peels are dry and the flesh is translucent, about 2 1/2 hours at 200℉.
- The down side of this variation – If the weather is warm or if slices comes in contact with moisture, they can become sticky. I would suggest you to use these sugary slices immediately.
- Use citrus that is very firm to touch so that slicing is easier. Also soft citrus fruits contain more juice in them & they will take long time to completely dry.
- I prefer oranges that are smaller. One of the key reasons to use small oranges is because once the oranges have been dehydrated, they will fit easily into the regular-sized mason jars.
- Using mandoline slicer instead of knife gives slices, that are of consistent thickness.
- Using seedless citrus also makes slicing, with a mandoline, a lot easier.
- The top and bottom of the citrus fruit can be dried, powdered & stored – to be later used as orange zest in the bakery products.
- Blood oranges are by far the most beautiful when dehydrated. I love the deep red hues they get once they age a bit. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend it!
- Want to cut down on the sugar?? Use granulated sugar free substitute like coconut sugar!
- Flavor it up with spices – Use sea salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, black salt, apple pie spice or ginger powder. Go ahead with your crazy experimentation & let me know in the comment section what worked for you??
- Putting them on Christmas tree to make it smell good, is another fun way to use it. We do it every year!
- Dip them in chocolate & gift them as treats.
- Throw in a couple of slices, when you make & store sugar syrup for that extra citrusy flavor.
- It is best to use seedless variety of citrus to make these dried slices, especially lemons. Why you ask?? Because otherwise you will be peeking at holes once the slices are all dried out. As it is very obvious in the above video, I however, do not mind few holes in my lemon slices.
- The slices turn darker in color as they age and look more beautiful as decorations. A slice stored for 6 months will be relatively darker than a slice made fresh!
- You can also make these slices weeks in advance.
- Store them in an air tight container in a cool & dry place, away from warm surroundings to prevent moisture setting in.
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