Are you looking for an old fashioned Christmas tradition? Maybe just a pretty decoration for your tight budget? These beautiful dried orange ornaments fit both bills. They look and smell beautiful. Plus they can be used for more than just decorating the tree. I’ve got them spread throughout my house this Christmas. You definitely must give these a try this Christmas.
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An Orange in Your Stocking?
I grew up reading Little House. I remember how excited the girls were to receive oranges in the toes of their stockings. At the time I did not understand this old fashioned tradition. Although I too got an orange in my stocking, I was not nearly as excited as the Ingalls girls were so long ago. I became curious about the tradition and, like any good teacher, did a little research.
Years ago, oranges were a rare and special treat for those living in colder climates. Having any fresh fruit in the middle of winter was a luxury most couldn’t afford. This made oranges a delicious treat around the holidays. During times of hardship, like the Great Depression, they were a gift that was affordable and appreciated.
The other reason is a legend about St. Nickolas. He learned of a poor man unable to pay the dowries for his three daughters. So he went and threw three bags of gold down the chimney. Each bag landed in a different stocking the girls had hung by the fire to dry that night. The oranges we get in our stockings represent the gold that St. Nickolas put in theirs.
I decided that in an effort to make a more old-fashioned Christmas, I would make dried orange ornaments both for decoration and for gifts.
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Oven vs Dehydrated Dried Orange Slices
I had two large oranges, so I decided to try both methods of drying them. Before I did too many, I wanted to know the best method.
Oven Dried Orange Ornaments
After slicing and patting the slices dry, I laid the slices out on a parchment lined baking sheet. I set the oven to the lowest temperature and let them bake. I flipped them every couple of hours. After about five hours, I was ready for bed. I turned the oven off, but they continued to dry out inside.
Dehydrator Dried Orange Ornaments
After slicing and patting the slices dry, I laid the slices out in the racks of the dehydrator. I set it to high and let it run until the orange slices were completely dry. This only took about 3 hours, but I left them overnight just to be sure the inside was dry too. I only flipped them once before bed.
Comparing Oven vs Dehydrator Dried Orange Slices
I found that the oven dried oranges took longer to dry out than the ones in the dehydrator. The dehydrated ones kept their bright color, while the oven ones turned a darker orange. In the oven the oranges started to curl, despite being turned. I only had one slice curl in the dehydrator.
How to Make Dried Orange Slices
- Start by slicing the oranges about a quarter inch thick. Cut from the top so that you can see all of the orange sections in each of your slices. I used a mandolin, but you could also use a knife. Word of warning: Use the guard that came with a mandolin. I lost the tip of my finger while slicing the orange slices.
- Then lay the orange slices out on paper towels and pat them dry. This gets the extra juices out to prevent a mess when you set them out to dry.
- If drying them in the oven, line a baking sheet with parchment. Lay out the orange slices so that they aren’t touching. Put them in the oven on the lowest temperature and let them bake until they dry. Turn them every couple of hours until finished.
- If drying them in the dehydrator, lay the slices out on the racks. Turn the dehydrator in high until they are dry. Turn them if they start to curl.
Making Dried Orange Ornaments
To turn the dried orange slices into ornaments for the Christmas tree, poke a small hole near the peel. I used scissors but a large needle or pencil tip would work too. Thread in some festive ribbon or string and tie the ends together. Now it’s ready to hang up on the tree. Little kids are capable of helping thread the string through the hole and it would make a wonderful family craft.
Making Dried Orange Garland
To turn dried orange ornaments into garland, poke two holes in each slice. I found this worked best when each hole was in a separate section of the orange. Thread some string or twine up through the first hole and down through the second hole. Repeat this with each slice until you reach the desired length. Put some tape on the end of the string to make it easier to thread. Tie off the ends or tie them on to whatever the garland will be hanging on.
Making Dried Orange Gift Toppers
To turn the dried orange slices into gift toppers, poke a small hole near the peel. I used scissors but a large needle or pencil tip would work too. Thread in some festive ribbon or string. Then tie the topper onto the bow. If you want the recipient to be able to use the dried orange slice as an ornament, then follow the ornament directions. Once finished use another piece of string to tie it onto the gift.