Tasty and attractive, dried orange slices are good for eating and pretty for decorating. 15 ways to use them, plus how to preserve.
This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
In the dark doldrums of winter, what would we do without citrus! Yes, while northern strawberries rest under a blanket of snow, and plum trees stand barren (though are great to cut for forced blooms), the south is producing citrus in abundance!
And you can take advantage of this bounty by making dried orange slices! It’s super easy and they can be used in so many ways from foods to decorations. Whether it’s chocolate dipped orange slices or simmer potpourri, they’re a bounty for a natural household!
What are Dried Orange Slices?
Dried orange slices are slices of orange that have been air or heat dried until the water content is reduced enough to preserve them. The Farmer’s Almanac lists drying as one of four main methods to preserve fruit which also include freezing, jam-making and pickling.
Of course drying has one fun advantage over the other methods. The end product is good for eating and can also be used for home décor!
And if you’re lucky enough to receive a beautiful fruit box loaded with citrus from Melissa’s Produce, it’s fun to think of everything you can make! It feels like Christmas in… any month. Yes, making dried orange slices is just the thing to keep that feeling going!
Why You’ll Love This!
Beautiful. Dried orange slices are so pretty and can be used for (all kinds of) décor. And if you’re eating them, well, you eat with your eyes first, they say!
Tasty & healthy. How many times is an appealing snack, absolutely, 100% natural? Yes, I know adding chocolate might take that down a little, but only a little.
Versatile and cost effective. A single bag of oranges can produce a lot of slices. You may run out of things to do before you run out of orange slices!
What You’ll Need
- Oranges. That’s all! How easy is that! I think it’s my first 1-ingredient recipe!
- If you decide to use the oven drying method, you don’t need any special tools, though an oven safe rack that will hold the slices or parchment can be nice. To dehydrate you’ll need a dehydrator, unless your oven has an unusually low setting (most ovens have a low temperature of 170F).
Dried orange and dried blood orange slices, oven-dried in middle row, dehydrated on bottom–from same oranges (size difference is from different section of the oranges)
Three Ways of Preserving Orange Slices
I have used three different ways of preserving orange slices. They each have different pros and cons which I’ll explain below. And to make the most of the harvest, this year I made orange slices all three ways!
Dehydrated Orange Slices
Best for: Sugar-free eating
Dehydrated orange slices are made in a dehydrator and dried at a temperature of 135F or less. You simply slice the fruit, set it on a drying tray, turn the dehydrator on and flip the slices over a few times while they dry.
The lower drying temperature helps preserve the color and fresh taste and still completes the process before the fruit molds.
The advantages of this method are the fresh taste and color I mentioned, plus the ease of use. And it allows you to preserve without adding any sugar. The biggest con is that you need to have a dehydrator.
Oven Dried Orange Slices
Best for: Decorations
Dehydrating oranges in the oven follows a similar method. You slice the oranges, set on a baking sheet topped with parchment or an oven proof metal rack and bake at 200 F. As with the dehydrator method, you flip the slices over periodically to achieve even drying.
The oven dried slices turn more warm-toned and take on almost a patina that I think is lovely, so it’s my favorite method for use in decorations. This has the additional advantages of being quick, easy and not needing special equipment. In terms of cons, the flavor suffers some from the heat.
Can I oven dry them at 170F? 170F is the lowest temperature for many ovens so seems appealing. But when I tried this I discovered two things. First, the dehydrator’s 135F version still tastes fresher and second, it’s enough cooler than 200 that it takes many hours longer. But it might be next best for fresh if you don’t have a dehydrator.
Candied Oranges Slices
Best for: Glossy food decoration and Candy
The final preservation method I use is candying the orange slices. This is actually a method of candy making and is discussed in detail in my candied orange slices post. It requires boiling orange slices in a simple syrup until you get to the “firm ball” temperature to achieve a glossy yet pliable slice.
The advantage of this is that these are very beautiful and tasty. The downside is that is takes a little more effort and skill and it infuses the orange with unhealthy sugar.
I don’t own an air fryer but the air circulation and ability of some (but not all) air fryers to operate at a low temperature can make this a viable option. Lower capacity would be the downside with this method, since you can’t lay a lot of slices out flat.
I have also seen microwave methods, but these seemed a little more hands on, so I didn’t test them.
And finally in some very dry climates, air drying might even be possible. While air drying herbs works in Wisconsin, I’d worry about mold with a high moisture item like this.
Step by Step Instructions
Slice the oranges. I use a mandolin (use protective gloves or the holder) but you can slice by hand.
Remove seeds if needed
Set individually on baking sheet in oven or mesh drying sheet in dehydrator. Heat at 200F in oven or 135F in dehydrator, flipping the slices over every hour or so until dried.
15 Uses for Dried Orange Slices
Now that you understand how to dry orange slices, the real fun can begin—figuring out all the ways you can use them. Here are some suggestions to get you started!
1) Garnish a drink—from cocktails, to mocktails to hot or iced tea.
2) Garnish a ham.
3) Add to potpourri or use in a simmer pot for fragrance.
4) Use as a pretty cake or cupcake decoration.
5) Dip slices in chocolate and sea salt for a fun snack.
6) Crumble into mulling spice mix.
7) Package into a jar as a DIY gift. (It’s almost time for teacher’s gifts!)
8) Hang from a string for Christmas ornaments.
9) Glue to a pretty wreath.
10) Create a dried orange garland.
11) Decorate a package, candle or gift basket. See that teacher’s gift note above.
12) Float in punch or sangria.
13) Use as a gluten free cracker.
14) Add to a charcuterie board. You’re not limited to fresh fruit and dried figs.
15) Turn into napkin rings.
And coming tomorrow, check out my blood orange mimosa!
Finally, I also have some great tips on making dried apples and dried pears that makes them especially attractive!
Tips & FAQs
Depending on how you will use them, consider drying different sizes of citrus– varieties like tiny kumquats, medium mandarins and full sized navals! This can make for an especially lovely look (shown here using candied orange slices). Yes, it’s the same amount of work and you’ll have a ball!
If you are trying to extend their life past the season, dehydrate the slices thoroughly and store dry. Some dried orange slices made by a friend got moldy over the humid summer. But consider that they’re so much fun and so easy, it’s easy to make this an annual project!
Dried Orange Slices
- 4 oranges or more or less if you prefer
- Slice oranges 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Discard (compost) the end slices that are all peel.
- Remove any seeds.
- To oven dry, place slices into a 200 F oven on a baking sheet topped with an oven safe metal rack or parchment. Flip slices over every hour until dry. Time will vary based on thickness, tightness of the oven seal, and will be less if you have a rack (since they can dry from both sides at the same time). Mine took 4-6 hours on parchment. On a rack, it should be about half that.
- To dry using a dehydrator, set the temperature to 135F. Set the slices on a mesh drying sheet. If you are worried about dripping, pat them dry first or set up an additional, unused tray with a solid drying sheet below. Start the dehydrator and flip the slices every hour or so. Mine have taken from 6-9 hours on a mesh tray but double the one time I used a solid tray.
Tuesday #SpringSweetsWeek Recipes
- Blueberry Pear Muffins with Allspice by Blogghetti
- Carrot Cinnamon Rolls by Magical Ingredients
- Carrot Halwa (Gajar Halwa) by Palatable Pastime
- Dried Orange Slices by Art of Natural Living
- Key Lime Pistachio Cheesecake Bars by The Spiffy Cookie
- Lemon Ginger Smoothie by Cookaholic Wife
- Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Orange Creamsicle Coffee Caramels by Sweet Beginnings
- Orange Liqueur by That Recipe
- Pear Ginger Bread by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Slow Cooker Butterscotch Pears by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Yellow Dragon Fruit Refresher by Jen Around the World
We share recipes from #SpringSweetsWeek on Pinterest! Make sure you follow the board to see all the delicious recipes shared this week.
- Easy Mini Cheesecake Bites
- Blood Orange Mimosa