This year my daughter and I have BIG plans for Christmas decorating. She’s almost five and very, very excited about helping this year (and I’m grateful to have the help!). We have several Christmas decorating ideas and one of them includes a “kitchen tree” with all natural/homemade decorations. I’ve always admired the dried fruit decorations that I see every year in Williamsburg and this year I was determined to make our own – and guess what? It’s TOTALLY EASY! I don’t know why I felt so intimidated about this but it really is simple and I’ve already been working on more dried fruits. But let’s get you started on making your own dried oranges for decorating. Here’s how:
The first and only ingredient you need are… oranges! You want to slice your orange into thin slices but not wafer thin. Drying them causes them to shrink a bit and if they’re sliced too thin they can kind-of shrivel up. At the same time, you don’t want to make the slices too thick either because it will take f-o-r-e-v-e-r for them to dry if they are too sturdy.
Once you’ve made all your slices, lay them out on an ovenproof wire rack which is resting on top of a cookie sheet (for stability and to catch and little juice drips). I used every single bit of the orange even the tiny little ends because while the main slices will be good for decorations, the itty bitty pieces will be great for stove top simmer mixes (stay tuned for my signature mix coming later in the season by the way!)
Turn your stove to its lowest setting – for me that was 170° – and bake these slices for 2 to 3 hours. (By the way, I used the convection setting on my oven to help circulate the air while it was cooking.) I flipped my oranges after the first hour. I’ve read some recipes that instruct you to turn them every 20-30 minutes so they don’t stick. I checked mine at the 20 minute mark and they were no where near sticking point, so I just let them be until they had been cooking for a little over an hour.
Once they are mostly (if not all) dry and have turned the rich color that you desire, pull them out of the oven and allow them to cool on a rack. I moved mine to a new rack to cool to get them off the heat but I think that’s optional. It’s my understanding that the oranges will get darker with age and that they will last for multiple seasons.
There are two schools of thought on storing, some folks say store in air tight containers others say paper bags. I say, go with what works for you. I tend to store everything in plastic tubs and I see that in my future. I want to give a shout out to this post by Barri-Jayne. I thought she did a brilliant job of sharing tons of details and ideas!
I hope you feel inspired to give this a try! I’ve got more ideas than time so it will be fun to see what we accomplish with these little guys. Stay tuned!