In our home we associate the holiday season with an abundance of citrus in our diet, especially the little mandarins and tangerines which disappear faster than I can peel them. Once we start buying our oranges by the box I know it is that time of year again; their natural beauty, invigorating scent and stimulating color herald the approach of Christmas.
Keeping with the natural theme in our décor, one of the simplest holiday decorations we make are dehydrated oranges. The resulting translucent slices can be used in a multitude of ways: wreath embellishments, Christmas tree ornaments, adornments on wrapped presents and in garlands. This year every wreath we made had a couple or more pieces adding color and texture, and the rest are currently hanging in my kitchen window, providing a daily stained glass effect together with the morning sun. The orange slices can be added to a holiday potpourri, or serve as table decorations for a winter meal – really, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination!
The process of dehydrating is simple. On a day when I’m busy getting things done around the house I thinly slice an orange, placing the slices on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Using Martha’s recipe for reference, the oven was preheated to 200˚F and the oranges dusted with confectioner’s sugar. This trick is nice because the finished product can also be used to garnish drinks – hot toddies for those cold winter evenings, or even citrus drinks at the holiday party.
Bake for about 2.5 hours, until the flesh is translucent and the skin is dry. If you overbake you’ll see the thinnest parts start to brown, and if you underbake the slice will still be wet and sticky.
For even drier oranges lower the baking temperature and increase oven time. The slices can be placed on a rack while cooking, increasing circulation and aiding the dehydration process. Various sources stated the drying time at 140˚F to be between 6-12 hours, depending if the oven door was cracked to allow moisture to escape.
The orange slices nicely compliment red cranberries and green evergreens in color. As far as appealing to the sense of smell, the citrus pairs well with cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise. Cinnamon can be rubbed into the orange before baking, which reduces the translucency but smells delicious. The texture contrasts nicely with pine cones and evergreens, and only a couple of slices have a major impact. Finally for stringing everything together I’ll use craft/florist wire when I wish it to be less conspicuous, and raffia for a more obvious accent.
Were dried orange slices part of your Christmas traditions growing up? I would love to hear if you’ve ever made them before, and if yes, how you utilized them! Tomorrow on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas we are joined by Lelde from the blog Dabas mamma - hope you'll join us...
The winner of the Day 3 giveaway is Crazy - "I really like the amber ornaments. I get each of my kids a new one every year. This year I'm going to get this one for my little Amber :)" Congratulations Crazy, please let me know which of the 5 prizes you would like. Thank you to everyone who entered, and thank you to BalticShop for sponsoring!