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How to Dry Orange Slices

By Luna Regina | Updated
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If you know how to dry orange slices, it will save you a lot of hassle come Christmas time.

Dried orange slices have been used as a Christmas decoration for ages. A string of it hanging on your mantelpiece will definitely make the house look and feel more festive.

That’s not all you can use dried orange slices for, though. It can be an excellent cocktail garnish. Stick one onto the rim of your cocktail glass to give it a tropical vibe. Alternatively, you can add dried orange slices into potpourri, mulling spice mix, or you can just eat it straight as a snack.

Here’s how you can do it!

Dried Orange vs. Fresh Orange: Are There Any Differences?

Dried orange tends to be a lot more potent than fresh orange. This is applicable to most fruits: the dried variant is almost always going to taste stronger.

After going through the drying process, most of the water content inside of the fruit will evaporate. As a result, the essential oil that’s responsible for the taste and aroma becomes concentrated and more pronounced.

The oil glands that secrete essential oil are found in the peel of an orange. Because of this, you should always keep the peel on when drying if you want to maximize taste and aroma.

How Long Do Dried Orange Slices Last?

Once they have been properly dehydrated, dried orange slices can last for up to 2 years. If you plan to use it for food or snack, dried orange slices are very shelf-stable.

How Long Do Dried Orange Slices LastHow Long Do Dried Orange Slices Last

Note that the flesh of the orange will darken over time. This is just an aesthetic change. It doesn’t affect the edibility of the slices at all.

However, this can be a problem if you plan to use the slices for decoration. For this reason, you should make a fresh batch of decorative slices every year. Fresh slices are more vibrant in color.

How to Dry Orange Slices

There are four great drying methods that you can use: baking in the oven, microwaving, drying in the food dehydrator, or air drying.

The first (oven) is the most recommended since it is more accessible, simpler, and less risky. Compared to the microwave, the heat of the oven is less intense and more stable. Additionally, the risk of burning the orange slices is lower.

However, drying in the oven can take a fairly long time. You will need to bake the orange slices for 3 to 6 hours.

Zapping the orange slices in the microwave is quicker, taking only a couple of minutes, but riskier. Due to its high heat, you will need to be more careful of accidental burns.

The third method is with the food dehydrator. A dehydrator will give you very high-quality dried orange slices, but  not everyone has a dehydrator at home.

The fourth and least recommended method is natural air drying. The sole advantage of this process is that it doesn’t require any equipment at all.

In return, success relies heavily on the weather in your area. If you live somewhere sunny and warm with low humidity, the slices will dry out very quickly. On the other hand, if you live somewhere cold and humid, they won’t dry at all.

1. In the Oven

Step 1: Preparing the Orange Slices

All kinds of oranges are suitable for drying. You don’t have to worry about the cultivar.

If you just got them from the store, give each orange a rinse under cold tap water. Dry carefully with a towel before continuing.

Cut the oranges crosswise into slices around ¼ inch thick. Thin slices will dry more quickly.

How to Dry Orange Slices in the Oven

Step 2: Arrange the Slices on a Baking Sheet

Bring out a baking sheet. Line the bottom with either a wire rack or parchment paper.

We do not recommend you dry the slices directly on the sheet itself. If you do, the orange slices will stick firmly to the bottom of the sheet.

Arrange the slices on the sheet so that none of them touch one another. Ideally, there should be a ¼ or ½ inch space between each slice. Do not layer the slices as they won’t dry well.

Step 3: Bake

Put the baking sheet into the oven. Set the temperature at around 170°F and the timer for 6 hours.

If your oven doesn’t go down to 170°F (some only go down to 200°F), you can set it to 250°F, instead. Bake for 2-3 hours at this temperature.

Due to the shorter baking time, the orange slices could still be slightly wet afterward. Hang them up or leave them on the countertop so that they naturally dry the rest of the day.

Flip the orange slices every hour. This will ensure that both sides of the slices will dry out. You can use a timer app on your phone to notify you every 1 hour.

Step 4: Cool Down

Take the baking sheet out of the oven and leave it on the countertop to cool. When the dried orange slices are completely cooled, they will crispen up.

What Else Can I Dry With This Process?

Oven-drying is a very versatile method. Because of its low and gentle heat, the oven is a good way to dry just about everything.

For example, in this guide we have detailed instructions on how to dry basil.

If you would like to learn how to dry parsley in the oven, we have another guide for that, too.

Oven-drying isn’t reserved for just herbs but can also be used to dry mushrooms.

2. In the Microwave

Step 1: Preparing the Orange Slices

Wash the oranges and cut them into slices ¼ or ½ inch thick.

How to Dry Orange Slices in the Microwave

Step 2: Put the Slices on the Plate

Take out a microwave-safe plate and line the bottom with 4 or 5 pieces of paper towels.

Place your orange slices on top. Avoid layering the slices. If you do, they won’t dry well.

Cover up the orange slices with more paper towels.

Step 3: Drying

Put the plate into the microwave. Set the microwave to Defrost mode and the timer for 7 minutes.

When the timer starts to beep, take the plate out of the microwave.

Lift the hot orange slices from the plate using a pair of tongs and replace the bottom layer of paper towels with new ones. You can save the top layer.

Put the slices back onto the plate and return to the microwave. Cook them again for another 5 minutes.

After this second session, the orange slices should already be dried and have the same consistency as jelly. If they haven’t, you can return them to the microwave and zap for an extra 2 minutes.

What Else Can I Dry With This Process?

Although the microwave is a very good dehydrator, it’s usually not recommended. Its harsh heat can easily burn whatever you’re trying to dry, so it requires a lot of carefulness and vigilance.

If it comes down to it, the microwave can be used to dry anything. If you’re interested, you can learn how to dry oregano in the microwave here in this guide. 

Other herbs with Mediterranean roots dry well in the microwave, too. For example, it takes just a couple of minutes of zapping in the microwave to dry rosemary.

3. In the Food Dehydrator

Step 1: Preparing the Orange Slices

Wash and cut the oranges as instructed earlier. Cut into ¼ or ½ inch slices.

Step 2: Dehydrate

How to Dry Orange Slices in the Food Dehydrator

Put the orange slices onto the dehydrating trays. Set the temperature for the dehydrator between 120°F and 130°F.

Depending on various factors like the thickness of the cuts and ambient humidity, it can take the slices anywhere between 12 to 24 hours to dry.

Flip the oranges once every couple of hours. You should do this at least once to ensure that both sides of the orange slices are dried evenly.

What Else Can I Dry With This Process?

A food dehydrator is the ultimate food dryer. Anything can be dried using this machine so, if you like to dry things, it’s worth investing in one.

We have a few food dehydrator drying guides for you to browse through if you’re interested, such as this guide on how to dry dill. It’s not a popular herb like basil or parsley, but it’s excellent for pickling and seafood.

While you’re here, if you’re interested in drying orange slices, then you will probably also want to read about how to dry cranberries. Just like dried orange slices, dried cranberries are incredibly popular during holiday seasons.

4. How to Air Dry Orange Slices

This method will only work if you live somewhere with a sunny and warm climate with low humidity. If your area tends to have cold, humid weather, your orange slices will sooner dry out and rot than fully dry.

Step 1: Preparing the Orange Slices

Wash and cut the oranges as instructed earlier. Cut into ¼ or ½ inch slices.

Step 2: Arrange the Orange Slices on a Window Screen

For this method, we recommend using a window mesh screen. It will absorb any moisture that comes out of the slices as well as keeping them from sticking to the tray.

Line a tray with the mesh screen. Use paper clips and attach them to the raised edges of the tray so that the screen is slightly raised off the bottom of the tray. This will ensure that there is airflow underneath, which will dry off the bottom of the slices.

Alternatively, you can use a solid mesh screen. Just make sure that the screen fits the tray.

How to Air Dry Orange Slices

Lay your orange slices on top of the raised screen. Make sure that the slices don’t touch one another. You shouldn’t layer them, either.

Step 3: Place the Tray in a Sunny Spot

Find a sunny spot in your home. Any spot with good sunlight is okay. However, an open window with regular, direct access to sunlight is best since it offers both airflow and the sun.

The time it takes for the slices to dry will be around 8 to 10 hours. If your area has very hot weather and intense sunlight, they could potentially dry in just 2 to 3 hours.

What Else Can I Dry With This Process?

Before all of the fancy equipment like ovens, microwaves, and food dehydrators existed, the only way to get dried food was to air dry. In many parts of the world, it is still the de facto way to dry food.

For example, making ristra (dried peppers on a string) is still a popular tradition in many Central and South American countries. You can find a dedicated guide on how to dry peppers on HealthyRecipes101.

Conclusion

As we can see, it’s not too difficult to learn how to dry orange slices.

All four methods aren’t at all complicated and don’t require a lot of skill. All you need to do is pay attention and spend some time flipping the orange slices. In a few hours, you would get some nice, well-dried orange slices to show!

Now that that’s finished, if you’re up for some extra reading, we have some other drying guides you can check out:

  • How to Dry Mint: Mint is both a culinary and medicinal herb. Its signature “minty” taste and aroma make it a great ingredient to add to spice-heavy dishes. Other than that, dried mint leaves can also be boiled into tea. It can soothe an upset stomach and reduce nausea, among other benefits. Here’s how you can dry mint at home.
  • How to Dry Thyme: Thyme is one of the more popular herbs out there. Sharp, minty, and earthy, this herb can be found in the cuisine of many regions in the world. Where you will run into it most often, though, is in the Mediterranean region. If you love making Mediterranean dishes, learning how to dry thyme will be extremely helpful. In this guide, there is everything you need to know about the process.
  • How to Dry Cilantro: Cilantro, like thyme, is a very ubiquitous herb that you can find across the globe. Just like thyme, dried cilantro is used extensively in Mediterranean recipes. You can learn how to make dried cilantro with this article.
Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen. Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it. Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.

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