Every holiday season I make an abundance of dried orange slices for Christmas. I use them for a multitude of purposes – from tree decorations to gift wrapping. Learning how to make dried orange slices is a relatively easy process. I usually dry mine in the oven; however, a food dehydrator would reap you the same wonderful results.
They really look magnificent hanging on the tree, and I am thankful I put forth the effort.
This is how it is done:
Grab some plump and juicy oranges – the fresher, the better. I use navel oranges.
Slice the orange, and make all the slices a uniform size. You do not want them too thick or too thin. I slice mine about 1/4″ thick. They will shrivel up slightly in the drying process, so the finished slice will be somewhat thinner. If the slices are too thick, they won’t completely dry out. If too thin, they will tear and possibly burn.
Once the orange is sliced, you will want to lay out all the individual slices and gently pat them with a paper towel. You do not want to press heavily; it is just a gentle pat to remove any excess juice or moisture. Do not skip this step. In my opinion, this step is very important to ensure the slices will dry evenly and completely.
Prepare the rack you are going to dry them on with a slight misting of a non-stick cooking spray. This will help protect the slices when turning, preventing them from sticking to the rack and possibly tearing. I like the open racks because it provides better air circulation. The slices don’t sit in their own juices, which allows for a more optimum drying process.
Arrange the slices on your baking rack, making sure you leave enough room between the slices for good air circulation. I usually put aluminum foil on the bottom of a bigger pan, which rests underneath the baking rack. I do this solely to catch any drips from falling on the oven floor (not a necessary step, but makes for easy cleanup).
Now this step is purely optional. I am going to mention it because I have read different posts about how to dry oranges and some people state they don’t see a difference between an orange slice without sugar, and one that has been dusted with sugar. I would humbly disagree with that conclusion.
These are what the slices will look like when dried – one without sugar … and the other with sugar. As you can see, the sugared slices have a slight sheen to them. They tend to glisten a bit more. There is a difference, albeit a subtle one. I like the two versions equally. If I want a little shimmer on the slices, I will add the sugar. If I want them natural, either for my indoor tree … or later when I put them outside … I will not add the sugar. Both are beautiful. If you do decide to add some sugar, be sure it is confectioners sugar – and then sprinkle a light dusting on the slices. Not much is needed.
Put them in a 200 degree oven, and bake for about 2 1/2 hours. I check on them about every 30 – 40 minutes, and I will turn them after about an hour.
Once dried and out of the oven, the slices should be dry and easy to pick up. The slices should be erect, and not slumped over with remaining dampness. If burnt, they were left in the oven too long.
Finally, the orange slices get to rest most gracefully and beautifully on my tree. Positioned in front of a light, each orange slice looks different. They will change to whatever color your lights are. They remind me of vintage pieces of stained glass. They are absolutely stunning once the lights come on. I love the simplicity of these ornaments, as well as their natural beauty.
I hope this post will help you and yours make some wonderful, and aromatic, dried orange slices for your own holiday celebrations. It is a wonderful way to showcase the beauty of citrus during this joyous season.
Happy Holidays, and Peace on Earth to everyone.