It is an old-fashioned tradition to trim the tree and deck the halls with natural elements, like fruit. Making dried orange slices is a satisfying and easy project. It is one that will result in jewels of color to catch the lights on your Christmas tree. Try making your own this season!
Christmas Time And Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits were traditionally available only during winter. We call them the “Old Days”, when children found an orange in the toe of their Christmas stocking. Receiving an orange was so special because they were considered a luxury to most families. In fact, they were such a treat that most children, unless they lived in the south, where they were grown, received one in the entire year.
My family maintains the tradition, and my children find an orange in their stockings Christmas morning. I do this for the sake of tradition, but I had never known the origins of the practice.
I learned a lot from reading this article from thekitchn.com about the tradition of placing oranges in Christmas Stockings.
Christmas Time And Dried Orange Slices
There has been a renewal in using dried orange slices in Christmas decorating in recent years. A lot of us feel a desire to slow down and enjoy traditional activities that remind us of simpler times.
So, the hands-on process of making our own dried orange slices is intriguing and the final product is naturally beautiful!
I love the subdued color of dried orange slices. If your eyes prefer the softer colors of nature, these will appeal to you, as well.
Also, there is an appreciation for beauty in nature that captures the imagination. Therefore, bringing that nature into my home at Christmas is my favorite way to decorate.
Use fresh oranges that are bright in color and have no signs of being past their prime. Fruit that has begun to shrivel won’t dry as uniformly and your dried orange slices will not look as good.
There is not much required, just a few essentials:
- A sharp, serrated knife- I used a bread knife like this one.
- A cutting board
- Baking pan- I used parchment paper, so I didn’t have to clean my pan afterwards.
Optional Tools That Help If You Have Them On Hand
- Mandoline Slicer- This helps to keep your orange slices uniform.
- Dehydrator- I don’t own one. But it is nice if you have one, then your oven is still available while your orange slices are drying.
Tips For Successful Dried Orange Slices
- It is a helpful to blot your orange slices gently with a paper towel before they go into the oven. This can cut down a little on your drying time.
- Keep the width of the orange slices to 1/8- 1/4 inch. The more uniform the size, the better they will look , plus they will be more likely to dry in the same length of time.
- Flip your orange slices every half hour, that way they dry evenly.
- Remove any that are finished drying sooner than the others.
How To Make Dried Orange Slices
First, on a cutting board, I sliced my oranges into 1/8 inch – 1/4 inch slices, endeavoring to keep them similar in size.
I recommend removing the two or three slices on each end of your orange and drying the middle slices. It is almost completely rind on those.
I have a great use for the discarded pieces that will be coming soon!
Next, I arranged my orange slices on a baking sheet and put them into the oven at 170 degrees.
I flipped them every 30 minutes so that they dried evenly.
There were a few slices that were finished drying sooner, so I removed them from the pan and set them aside to cool.
Note: If you have a mostly dried orange slice with a spot that is soft, it will continue to air dry. Just let it out in the open, on a surface or hang it on your tree or garland. As long as it has some air flow it won’t develop mold.
To enhance the scent of my dried orange slices, I added orange essential oil. I put a few drops on a cloth and gently rubbed them with the cloth.
Great Uses For Dried Orange Slices
These orange slices are completely edible, so they are delightful for culinary uses! Dried orange slices look beautiful as decorations on a cake, or stuck into the top of a cupcake!
Of course, they are lovely as garlands! I love to have them drape across a window as they look pretty with light shining through them.
Dried orange slices are a beautiful addition to pine and cedar garlands as well
Dried orange slices shine as embellishments to wrapped presents! I especially love the natural look of simple brown Kraft paper gift wrap, decorated with ribbon and one or two of these.
You can add them to a Christmas wreath this year. Tie a dried orange slice with string or wire it onto the wreath.
Additional Uses For Dried Orange Slices
- A classic use for dried orange slices is to add them to dry potpourri.
- As an addition to handmade beeswax jar or pillar candles they look beautiful and are fragrant while burning.
- Add dried orange slices to homemade herbal kindling bundles, for a wonderful scent when you light your bonfire or fireplace.
- Tie one onto a basket by a pretty ribbon. You can find my post about painting baskets here.
Storing Your Dried Orange Slices
Your beautiful homemade orange slices can be stored away for next Christmas, if you wish. As long as they are completely dry they will handle storage well.
They will get moldy if there is any moisture left in them! So, be sure they are dry and wrap them up in tissue paper or brown Kraft paper and store them with the rest of your decorations.
Or you can make a fresh batch next year!
Have fun making your own dried orange slices this Christmas season. Tell me how you like it. How will you use yours? Please tell me in the comments below.