Ever since I laid eyes (and nose) on oven dried citrus, I vowed to make it a part of my annual holiday routine. When I use them as garland and Christmas tree ornaments, I feel like one of the March sisters from Little Women donning a waistcoat and decorating my Concord, Massachusetts home that has no indoor plumbing. When I put them in a simmer pot on my stove or drop them into a cocktail, I am Ina Garten herself.
Perhaps I have a little too much fun with dried citrus, but we all have our traditions. Plus, for the holly jolliness they make me feel, the process could not be easier, though it does take some time. Around 4.5 hours. Which conveniently is the perfect amount of time to make a dent in your latest audiobook.
To make your oven dried citrus you will need:
- A mandolin or a serrated knife
- A cutting board
- Paper towels
- Parchment paper
- A baking sheet
- Your chosen citrus! I used a naval orange, a few cara cara oranges, a lime, and a handful of mandarins
- Optional (depending what you want to do with your citrus!): sewing needle, acrylic thread, twine
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pre-line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Using your chosen citrus slicing tool (mandolin users, you have my deepest respect), slice your citrus very thinly. Basically as thin as you can without breaking the circle of each slice.
- Arrange your citrus on the lined baking sheet, putting a bit of space between each slice
5. Blot all of the slices to get rid of any excess juice, then flip the slices and do the same on the other side.
6. Bake for 4-4.5 hours, flipping the slices every 30 minutes to avoid burning. Keep an eye on ’em! They won’t all dry out at the same time. You’ll know a slice is dry when you touch it and can’t feel any moisture.
While you bake and flip, give a listen to these audiobooks that are as atmospheric as your now-citrus-scented home.
7. Once they’re all dried out, remove from the oven and let them cool before making your next move!
8. Decide what you want to do with your lovely citrus!
If you want to make ornaments, garlands, or gift decorations: poke a small hole in the top of your citrus slices with a sewing needle, thread your string or twine through and knot at the top to make a loop. If you’re making a garland, make the same holes in the top of the slices, but string on a longer strand of twine, then tie off to make loops at either end.
If you want to make a simmer pot or cocktail garnish: To make a simmer pot, put your citrus slices in a small sauce pan with two cups of water. If you have them, add in cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and a couple cloves. Turn on to a low heat, and let simmer to your heart’s content. If you’re looking to garnish a cocktail, make as instructed and just pop your dried citrus in! I for one will be garnishing Lambrusco spritzes and mulled wine for extra cozy feelings.
This year, I made ornaments for my wee apartment tree and gift decorations: