These are a long established and very traditional Christmas decor item but I’m just now really getting to know them. Dried orange slices caught my attention while I was perusing a shop that had a small Christmas tree adorned with them. I wouldn’t have guessed on my own that they’d look so festive for this season but they do! Maybe it’s how they complement Christmas greens in color, and it’s definitely how they look almost transparent like stained glass and have an intriguing glow when they catch the light. I thought they’d be a really nice and fresh detail to add to an arrangement on our dining table, and it conveniently turned out that they are terribly easy to make. So easy that I wondered if it was even worth dedicating a blog post to it because the instructions are slice, bake, and hang, you’re done.
I’m going to first write out the step by step and then go through and explain how to get the best results and why.
How to Dry Orange Slices
- Preheat oven to 175F
- Slice oranges into roughly 1 cm slices
- Place slices on a wire baking rack and insert in oven.
- Flip slices at least every hour to prevent sticking and to check on the progress.
- Remove when slices no longer feel sticky. This can take anywhere between 3-6 hours.
How long it takes the slices to dry out in the oven has everything to do with how juicy the oranges are and how thin you slice them. One of my oranges was very juicy and one of them was very dry, just so happened to work out perfectly for seeing the time differences in the oven. The slices from the dry orange dried out in about 4 hours while the slices from the juicy orange took a little over 6 hours. Thicker slices from each needed to stay in the oven longer while the ones that finished sooner were taken out as they each dried out.
In the instructions I wrote to bake the slices on a wire rack, but if you don’t have one you can use parchment on a baking sheet. The reason I favor the wire rack is because it will dry out the oranges faster. You will need to monitor the rack just a little more closely because sticking is more of a risk vs parchment paper. Flipping the slices at least every hour will prevent sticking and potentially burning the oranges with either of these methods .
I took out each slice whenever they were done and no longer sticky, which ended up being one or two here and there until they were all out of the oven. They don’t have to be completely dried up! Mostly dried up is fine since they will continue to dry out while they hang wherever you put them. Once they’re out of the oven you can certainly hang them up right away, but I left mine on a cooling rack overnight to allow more drying so that they’d be more set.
I got these ornament hooks at Michaels that I think work best because they pierce through the oranges easily and they’re very unassuming. Other methods including stringing ribbon or plain string through them, but I think this is the easiest way if you’re only trying to hang them individually off of something as decoration.
I had hoped they’d fill the space with a citrus scent but they don’t do that at all. They smell faintly of oranges very up close, otherwise this is not something to do for the smells. They will supposedly last a couple years without molding but will get darker with time. I’d personally rather make them every year than try and store them because they’re so easy to make anyways. Storage space is precious!
I originally had the oranges hanging from an arrangement of Christmas greens, but after playing around a little with what I had I decided I like them better hanging from these greens because it looks more like a mini orange tree this way. These greens are Israeli ruscus and they’re frequently available at Trader Joe’s, PLUS they last a really long time in water. I think these were already a month old before I hung the oranges off of them and they’ll continue to look good sitting here for the rest of the year for sure.
Besides being a simple, everyday dining table centerpiece for the season, you can put these orange slices on trees, garlands, wreaths, gifts, baked goods, anywhere your holiday decorating goes. Making them a part of gift wrapping is probably where I’ll go next with these!