Tag

christmas

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style, Special Occasions

How To Dry Orange Slices This Christmas

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

Image of a dried orange Christmas garland with a blue text box that says how to dry orange slices to make decorations

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

Method

  • 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

person threading a dried orange slice garland

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.

Food Waste Tips, Life & Style, Special Occasions

Food Waste at Christmas – Easy Ways To Reduce Waste

Christmas festive food

Looking for tips to reduce your food waste this Christmas? I’ve got all the tips for you right here to slim your food waste bin, to help save money and the environment.

Christmas is the perfect time to relax with a glass of something nice and to treat yourself to a host of culinary delights.  A festive dinner with all the trimmings. Christmas cake. Mince pies. These are just some of the goodies you can expect at this time of year.

With around 4.2 million Christmas dinner servings binned each year in the UK, it makes good environmental and financial sense to reduce our food waste at this time of year. Thankfully, while some leftovers are inevitable, a little bit of preparation can mean you waste less food this festive season.

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Christmas

Image of festive biscuits and cookies with a blue text box that says how to reduce food waste this Christmas to help save money and the environment

Here are our top five ways to reduce your food waste this Christmas:

1. Know Who You’re Cooking For

If you’re preparing Christmas dinner this year then it can be tempting to cook far too much out of fear someone will go hungry.  This can lead to an awful lot of uneaten food.

While you don’t want your guests to starve, it’s important to think carefully about who is coming and work out roughly how much they will eat.  As a general rule of thumb, cook enough food to make up one spare dinner. This is just in case somebody is particularly hungry. However, there’s no need to go over the top. With all the extras on offer at Christmas, it’s unlikely many people will be asking for an extra portion!

This is also a good time to think about what people actually like to eat. Whilst it may be traditional to eat sprouts at Christmas, do you and your family actually like sprouts? If not, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave them off the menu. Traditions may be traditions. However, if they lead to food waste, then it’s time to make your own new traditions!

2. Use Your Freezer to Avoid Food Waste This Christmas

Fresh produce is highly perishable and must be eaten up before its use-by-date to avoid food poisoning. Frozen food, on the other hand, lasts for a long time. The good thing is that it can be whipped out whenever you have unexpected visitors that need feeding.  

Freeze fresh food that you might need at Christmas. And by stocking up on such items you won’t have to worry about running out of food. Nor will you need to throw away things that have gone off in the fridge. Using this approach also means you can stock up well in advance of the big day. This handily also allows you to spread your budget.

You can also utilise your freezer to store freezable leftovers. Freshly made soup that you have too much of, for example, can be frozen to be enjoyed later.

3. Buy Fresh Produce Daily

Instead of buying vast quantities of fresh produce that might not get used and consequently end up in the food waste bin this Christmas, try purchasing fresh produce such as milk, yoghurt, or cream on a daily basis.  Depending on where you live, your local shop may only close on Christmas Day itself, so there really isn’t any need to bulk buy short-dated foodstuff.

If you do prefer buying products in bulk, look for items with long use-by-dates such as long-life milk. Or alternatively, opt for powdered alternatives, like packet sauces, instead.  What’s more, make sure you store all food correctly so it doesn’t go off.  While avocados, for instance, must be kept in the fridge, garlic and potatoes will last longer in a cool dark cupboard.

4. Be Careful of Supermarket Deals

At this time of year, you can expect to see all kinds of buy-one-get-one-free deals and other bargains in the supermarkets. Whilst these deals are tempting, the golden tip to avoid food waste at Christmas is not to buy anything you don’t need.  

It’s easy to say “sod it, it’s Christmas”, before placing the items in your shopping trolley. However, if you buy things in bulk that you’d never normally eat at any other time of the year, these might end up in the bin.  

If you do find yourself with unopened packets in the cupboards that you’re never going to consume post-Christmas, consider taking them to a soup kitchen or your local food bank. This is with the caveat that the items are in date and you’re sure it’s something that can be used by the food bank or soup kitchen. If in doubt, do phone up to ask before turning up with donations.

5. Make the Most of Leftovers

For my last tip on how to reduce food waste at Christmas, whatever you do, don’t throw away those Christmas dinner leftovers.  Everything from carrots and broccoli to cauliflower and roast potatoes can be made into a delicious chunky broth or soup. And any leftover Christmas dinner will be mouth-wateringly delicious the next day when served in a hot bread roll.  

Some aspects of Christmas Dinner can also form part of a Boxing Day buffet. Meanwhile, if you peel too many spuds and decide not to cook them all, save them for a stew or curry sometime over the Christmas period.  Many seasonal types of meat and veg can be easily thrown into a slow cooker and turned into a scrumptious meal.

Christmas is a great time to socialise with friends and family enjoying a wide range of delicious foods. And while it wouldn’t be the holiday season without good food, with these handy food waste tips you can help reduce your food waste whilst having fun.

ps: don’t forget to check out my vegetarian Christmas dinner ideas, or my full guide on how to have an eco-friendly Christmas.