How to Dry Orange Slices: A Step-by-Step Holiday Guide
It’s citrus season! As we write this, thousands of navel oranges, mandarins, and lemons are ripening to their brightest and most beautiful colors, begging to be picked. One of our favorite ways to preserve the citrus bounty from our seasonal boxes is to dry the fruit for DIY holiday decorations. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide from the FruitGuys’ Jessica Bickis explaining how to dry orange slices until they look like chips of stained glass — perfect for crafting!
How to Dry Orange Slices Like a Pro
Jessica is The FruitGuys’ head of data and information systems, and she has been drying oranges and other citrus at home for a decade.
“I dry anything I can get my hands on: Oranges, cara caras, blood oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit, pomelos, and tangerines,” she says. Her step-by-step guide will work for any citrus you have on hand.
Jessica’s DIY Dried Orange Slices
Recipe by Jessica Bickis for The FruitGuys
Cutting board or plate
Mandolin or sharp knife
Parchment paper or metal mesh cooling rack
- Preheat your oven to its lowest setting.
- Cut off the ends of your oranges and toss them in the compost.
- Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice your oranges into wheels between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick. Each orange should produce about 10 slices. Keep in mind that the thicker your slices are, the longer they’ll take to dry.
- Line a baking sheet (or two, depending on the number of slices you have) with parchment paper or insert a metal mesh cooling rack. Jessica recommends the cooling rack because it allows hot air to flow around the citrus pieces, helping them dry faster.
- Lay your orange slices on the parchment paper or cooling rack.
- Bake your slices in the oven for eight hours. If your slices are still sticky after 8 hours and you need to sleep (or use the oven to make dinner) remove your baking sheet and let it sit on the counter overnight. The next morning, turn your oven up to 200 degrees and continue baking.
- When the slices are fully dehydrated (this is key — any stickiness can lead to mold), remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
- Repeat this process until all of your slices are dehydrated.
- After cooling, start using your slices for DIY holiday decorations and other crafts.
Makes 30-50 slices. Prep time, 10 minutes; cook time, 8+ hours.
If you’ve successfully dehydrated your orange slices, they’ll remain beautifully preserved for months or even years.
Jessica’s Best Tips for Success
Pro Tip #1: Start drying your oranges in the morning. If you start later, you may need to pause the process and finish the next day.
Pro Tip #2: Adjust your drying time for your fruit of choice. “The drying process is the same for all kinds of citrus, but bigger fruits like a grapefruit or a pomelo might take longer in the oven,” Jessica says. “I just check on the slices every couple hours to see if they’re getting crispy or if they’re still sticky. Once they’re not sticky, I pull the slices off the heat.”
Pro Tip #3: Resist the temptation to turn up the heat on day one to speed up the drying process. “You don’t want your slices to burn,” Jessica says. “It’s okay if they are a little brown, but you want to preserve the outside so that the pulp cells don’t rupture. That’s what gives you a really nice stained-glass effect.”
5 Fun Ways to Use Your Dried Citrus
Jessica learned how to dry orange slices while planning a “no-waste Christmas.”
“I was looking up ideas on how to wrap presents without using wrapping paper, and I saw a tip about using evergreen branches and dried citrus pieces as part of the bows. I thought, ‘That would be easy! I work at The FruitGuys and have access to citrus,’” she recalls.
Since then, Jessica has discovered more ways to use her dried citrus bounty. Here are five of her favorites you can try this winter, whether you’re zero waste or just crafty.
Decorate your windows for the holidays.
Use a needle and twine to string your citrus onto a garland, poking two holes in each slice to make sure they stay in place. When you’re done stringing, knot the ends of your twine into loops. Use nails or peel-and-stick utility hooks to hang the garland over your window, letting the citrus dangle in front of the glass. These DIY holiday decorations are stunning when the sunlight shines through them!
Level up your gift wrapping.
Use ribbon or twine to incorporate a few citrus slices into the bows on your holiday gifts. You can add evergreen sprigs or holly branches, too, for an extra festive touch.
DIY holiday tree garlands or ornaments.
Instead of hanging your citrus garlands over your windows, make even longer ones to wrap around your tree. Feel free to string in cranberries, popcorn, or other festive elements. To make ornaments, poke your needle through each orange slice once, tie the twine in a small loop, and hang the ornament on your tree!
Garnish holiday cocktails or mocktails.
Float a dried orange slice on top of your Cranberry Bramble or Jingle Juice to create a cocktail worthy of a professional bartender. The citrus adds a light orange flavor to mixed drinks, carbonated waters, and teas.
Whip up a winter simmer pot.
Add your dried citrus to a pot of hot water together with warming spices and other ingredients. The simmering water will perfume your home with the scents of the season! Here are 12 simmer pot recipes to explore.
A few oranges should produce plenty of slices to decorate your home, but if you’re working on a bigger project (ex. adding holiday cheer to your office or church, or creating cocktail garnishes for a large event) consider ordering FruitGuys citrus by the crate.
Our expert buyers choose the very best oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and other citrus available in your region. Every purchase supports small farms and relieves hunger.