Dried Orange Slices
Dried Orange Slices - Excellent For Crafting, Decorating, Or Eating
Dried oranges slices are often used in making decorations, especially around Christmas time. The technique, as one might expect, is not terribly complex. The finished product can be strung as a garland or used in a potpourri. There are a number of other crafting uses for dried orange slices, including making a necklace. Whether or not a dried orange necklace is particularly attractive is probably a matter of taste. Other citrus fruits can be sliced and used in the same manner. Lemons, limes and kiwi fruit for example. Grapefruit slices may be a bit more of a challenge, but maybe not. You won't know unless you try it.
The Drying Process - The basic process is to cut the orange crosswise, with the peel intact, into quarter inch slices. Having a sharp knife will yield a better result as will using oranges that are not overly ripe. You want a slice that is reasonably firm or at least holds its shape. The slices are to be dried in the oven on a cookie tray or sheet, but first it's recommended that the individual slices be placed between layers of paper toweling and pressed gently to remove as much juice as possible. This will not only speed the drying time, which still is rather lengthy, but will make the whole drying process, including clean-up, less messy.
It's best to spray the pan with vegetable oil to prevent sticking, and the slices should be placed on the pan without touching, unless you want them stuck together when the drying process is finished. This does not require a hot oven. A temperature of 150 degrees is about the maximum needed. A higher temperature may cause the slices to turn brown, not a particularly decorative color. It may or may not be necessary to turn the slices over to keep them flat, but they probably should be turned over at least once in any case. Expect the drying time to take around 6 hours.
An alternative approach is with a slightly hotter oven, about 170 degrees. In this case, the oranges are not placed directly on a pan, but on drying racks over the pan. Again, excess juice should be removed using paper towels before putting the slices in the oven, and the drying time will still be around 6 hours. The orange slices will feel somewhat pliable, but dry, when done, and can be left in the oven for awhile longer with the oven turned off.
Unless the dried orange slices are to be eaten, they can be sprayed with a clear acrylic spray (or colored if you wish), so they will hold up better as decorations. If you spray them with clear spray keep the slices for decorations separate from any that you might be tempted to take a bite of!
One can of course use a dehydrator, if you have one instead of the oven. The results should be about the same in either case.
Not All Slices Will Be The Same - One thing to bear in mind. Given the shape of the orange, the slices aren't all going to be the same size. You'll get two large diameter slices, plus a number of progressively smaller slices. This may be of no consequence unless the decorations you had in mind calls for slices of near identical sizes. The only answer to this is to use more oranges. Slices that are too big or too small can be eaten.
Dried Orange Slices For Eating - If the plan is to eat the dried orange slices, most recipes call for a hotter oven and a correspondingly shorter drying time. It's not required to press out excess juice before placing the slices in the oven. The slices are placed on a cookie sheet. A non-stick baking mat is preferable to a coating of vegetable oil in this case. The orange slices are coated with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and baked for 2 1/2 hours. By this time the peels should be dry and the dried orange slices, once cooled off, ready to eat.
An alternative approach is to make syrup, using a 50-50 ratio of water and granulated sugar. Pour the hot syrup over the orange slices (in a bowl) and let them sit for about 10 minutes before placing them in the oven. Bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees.
There are other recipes that can be tried, but the approach in each case is about the same. For eating dried orange slices you'll have a hotter oven and less drying time. For decorations, a cooler oven, and a longer drying time. Either approach should give the kitchen a nice fragrance while drying.