Make plastic-free and zero-waste decorations, with this full easy guide on how to dry orange slices for use in garlands, wreaths, and other Christmas decorations.
I’m in a full-on plastic-free and natural Christmas decorations kick this year. I’ve already shown you easy it is to make a popcorn garland, with popcorn and fresh cranberries. Now let me show you just how easy yet stunningly effective it is to dry orange slices to make garlands, decorations, gift tags, wreaths, and other Christmas trimmings.
It’s such a cheap and eco-friendly way to bring some Christmas cheer to your home. And, the best part is they smell so amazing. If someone was to bottle the smell of Christmas, for me it’s these slices drying in the oven.
To make this really cost-effective, and to help reduce food waste (I am all about reducing food waste) lookout for short-dated oranges reduced in price at your local shop. It’s easiest to find these towards the end of the day.
How To Dry Orange Slices
You Will Need
- Oranges (unbruised ones will give a better finish)
- A metal cooling rack
- A baking tray
- Clean dry tea towel
- Your oven preheated to 120°C fan / 140°C regular oven / 250°F / Gas Mark 1 or 2
- Slice your oranges into 1 to 2 cm thick slices. It’s important to cut them as consistently sized as you can, so that they cook evenly in the oven.
- Place a slice on the tea towel, and fold over the fabric so that the slice is covered. Gently pat out as much juice out of the slices as possible without damaging the slice. Repeat this step for each slice.
- Next, lay your oranges out on to the metal cooling rack, that is placed on a baking tray, and place in the oven for around 3 hours. The metal cooling rack is essential, as the orange slices would otherwise burn and stick to the baking tray. The use of the cooling rack allows air to circulate and dry out the orange slices without burning.
- Turn your oranges every half an hour to allow them to dry out evenly, and to prevent them sticking to the cooling rack. Opening the oven to turn your orange slice also allows moisture to escape from your oven, aiding the drying process.
- If your orange slices are thin they will dry out quicker. As well as regularly turning them, regularly keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
- Your orange slices are ready when they are dry to the touch (although they may still feel a little bit sticky when they are warm). Do bear in mind, the longer you dry your slices for for the longer they will last, so don’t be tempted to take them out the oven too early.
Suggestions On How To Use Dried Orange Slices
Orange slices can be used for a whole host of decor ideas. The dried orange garland in this guide to zero-waste Christmas decorations is a favourite.
To make a dried orange garland, simply take a knitting needle, a large embroidery needle, or similar, and string a length of twine through each orange, being careful not to rip the orange as you string. You can put them as close together or as far apart as however suits your best. Once finished, simply tie a knot with a loop at each end to make hanging easy.
Of course, it’s not just garlands that you can make. Dried orange slices make great eco-friendly alternatives to plastic baubles hanging on your Christmas tree. You can use them in your Christmas wrapping, in place of a plastic bow, add them to an indoor Christmas wreath, use them in your Christmas place settings. The only limiting factor is your imagination! If you are struggling, I’ve got lots of ideas on my eco-friendly Christmas Pinterest board.
How Long Will Dried Orange Slices Last?
Dried orange slices, if stored correctly and used indoors only, will last for years. The slices do darken over time, but I like the rustic look this gives.
To store your orange slices for next Christmas, if find it best to store them in a sealed jar or tub. This helps to prevent moisture from potentially rehydrating your slices whilst they are stored in your loft. Moisture getting in would cause the slices to rot. A sealed jar or tub helps prevent this.
I don’t tend to use dried orange slices for outdoor decorations, such as Christmas door wreaths. This is because the oranges do rehydrate when exposed to rain, and so don’t last for very long at all.