Have you got more oranges lying around in your kitchen than you can eat? Why not dry some of them and make some dried orange slices?
Learn how to dry orange slices the easy way!
Dried orange slices make a tasty, nutritious snack, a gorgeous garnish for desserts, and a fragrant, colourful addition to your holiday ornaments.
What can I do with dried orange slices?
Dried orange slices can be preserved and stored much longer than fresh ones. They’re a convenient snack to keep in the pantry and are especially handy on camping and road trips where a cooler isn’t available.
Packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and fibre, they’re naturally sweet and tangy. Plus, they’re easy to eat since you can just pop them into your mouth, rind and pith included, without making a sticky mess with your fingers.
You can dice them and add to salads, cookies, a cheese board, granola, or your home-made trail mix. Grind them into powder and use as flavouring for fish, stews, soups, curries, marinades, braising sauce, meat rubs, and baked goods.
You could make orange tea, or drop pieces into any regular tea and enjoy the tartness they bring. They’re yummy to nibble on after the tea is gone.
They make great garnishes on frosted cakes, cupcakes, and cocktails, too.
You can use dried orange slices as part of your Christmas decorations. When they’re decorated with cloves and combined with twine and cinnamon sticks, they jazz up any Christmas tree, wreath, and garland.
The orange discs tend to glow like stained glass when placed against a light source, so they look magical when hung against a window, on a string of fairy lights, or a lighted tree.
Do you like making potpourri? Are you arranging a centrepiece for the dining table? Attaching ornaments to ribbons when wrapping presents? Add some orange slices into the mix and make your gifts and home smell heavenly!
Dried orange slices are such a hit amongst crafts-lovers and artsy homemakers. They call them – along with lime, lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit slices – “citrus wheels”.
And the great thing is that they’re easy to make! Bake a batch now and you’ll see how far these “wheels” will take you!
What Temperature Should You Dry Orange Slices At?
Depending on the method of drying you use, the climate you live in, and the size and thickness of your slices, the time and temperature needed to dehydrate orange wheels can be anywhere from 2 to several hours at around 60 degrees centigrade.
The key to proper drying is using a very low heat for an extended period of time. Oranges dehydrate well because of their high citric acid and sugar content. And because they’re moist, they can tolerate high temperatures but don’t go too high as you might end up cooking, not drying your slices.
How To Dry Orange Slices
Here are 4 ways to do it;
- Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (usually around 60 degrees centigrade)
- Line 2 baking sheets with foil or grease-proof paper.
- Wash your oranges thoroughly and dry them.
- Using a serrated knife or a mandolin, slice crosswise into thin wheels or discs, around .6cm (¼ inch). Cut evenly so they all dry out at the same time. If there are seeds, carefully poke them out using the tip of the knife. (This step is especially recommended if you’re using the slices for eating.)
- Arrange the slices on to baking sheets, about 2.5cms (1 inch) apart. If you have a wire rack, you can use that, too, before placing it on a pan or baking sheet.
- Then, pat the slices dry with kitchen paper to blot out surface moisture.
- If you’re using the slices for decoration, press a clove, star side up, into the centre of the slices. This will make your house smell incredible!
- Bake for 3 to 4 hours, flipping every hour until the slices are stiff, crunchy, and dry – though not shrivelled up. If you’re using an oven with multiple racks, place the baking sheets on the top and bottom thirds and switch them periodically for even drying. Watch closely during the last 30 minutes to be sure the slices don’t overcook.
An alternative is to leave the oven door open 5-10cms (2-4in) so the air inside can circulate and the moisture can escape. If you use that method, the drying time could double. Choose which one will suit your schedule. Once done, allow the discs to cool completely before serving or storing.
If you have a food dehydrator, this is the ideal way to make dried oranges.
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- Arrange your orange wheels on the dehydrator tray. Use the time and temperature settings recommended in the user manual. If there isn’t any, set the heat at 60C (135F). The drying time could take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Check every few hours, flipping the slices. When thoroughly dried, they should be brittle and translucent.
This is unlikely to be an option for UK readers, but for those of you in hotter climates, drying oranges in natural sunlight is a possibility.
If you have a hot, breezy area in your garden or patio, put the discs there to dry. A concrete driveway would be a good place, too. Just make sure your tray is elevated and safe from the reach of animals.
Instead of a baking sheet, you can a rack or food-grade metal or plastic screen. Just place an aluminium foil or tin underneath so the metal can reflect the sun’s heat.
And use a fly cover to protect the fruit from birds and insects. A cheesecloth or mosquito netting would also do the trick.
At night, you’ll have to place the rack under shelter because cool air condenses and it could bring back moisture to your discs. With consistently good weather, though, your slices should dry up within 2 days.
This method may not be practical in humid climates such as (parts of) Australia, the tropics, and sub-tropics.
If you don’t have a food dehydrator, or you are short on time, using a microwave to dry orange slices is possible.
Every microwave is different, so consult the manual for precise directions. If not, be ready to do some trial and error before finding the setting and heating time.
- Place 5 or 6 sheets of plain white kitchen paper on a microwave-safe plate.
- Arrange the orange slices then cover with 5 or 6 more sheets of paper towel.
- Microwave at 50% power, or at “Defrost”, for 8 minutes.
- Remove the wheels and place them temporarily on to a wire rack.
- Discard all the paper towels and replace them with fresh ones. Flip the slices and repeat the drying process, microwaving at 8-minute intervals.
- When they’re about 75% dry, remove them and transfer to the wire rack to complete for about an hour.
How Long Will Dried Orange Slices Last?
Store your dried orange slices in a glass or plastic jar with an airtight lid. Keep them in a dark, cool place such as a cupboard or pantry. The discs will last up to 5 years if they’re dried and stored properly, free from moisture and dust. Their colour and flavour may fade over time, though.
Tips For Making Dried Oranges
- For best results, use ripe, sweet, brightly coloured oranges without spots or bruises.
- If you want your slices extra sweet or slightly flavoured, sprinkle seasonings like brown sugar, cinnamon, or ginger powder before drying them.
- The thickness of your oranges’ skin also matters. Thick-skinned varieties dry better in the oven and dehydrator than thin ones, which fare better in the sun-drying method.
- When oranges are in season, buy the fruits in bulk when they’re sold at a lower cost. Then you can dry big batches and save for later use. That way you can enjoy the dried slices all throughout the year.