The Many Uses Of Dried Oranges
It takes the fingers of both hands to number of uses for dried oranges, and there may be many more ideas out there. Dried oranges are one of those items one can use as a decoration, as food, or both. Dried oranges are quite simple to prepare. A dehydrator is best, but there's always the oven. It depends a little on how you plan to use them. Drying orange slices in an oven might be fine if they're to be used as decorations. If they’re to be eaten, a food dehydrator may be the best way to go.
When dried properly, oranges retain much of their nutritional value and much of their taste as well. All that's missing is the juice itself, and since an orange is mostly water to begin with the dried oranges weigh very little, and as the slices are normally quite thin in the first place, take up very little room.
With Peel Or Without - Let's start with the various ways dried oranges can be eaten and them move on to a few ideas for decorations. There are two ways to prepare sliced oranges, with the peels removed, and with the peels intact. Some dry their oranges one way and some the other, and others simply describe how to dry orange slices without indicating whether they remove the peels or not. The secret seems to be to slice the oranges fairly thin, no more than 1/4 inch thick. When they are that thin, the peel isn't going to interfere with eating pleasure. The white inner lining of the peel is somewhat bitter, but won't be noticed if the slice is very thin. On the other hand, orange peel is packed with nutrients, and in combination with the flesh or the orange provides a very healthy snack. Dehydrating an orange will get rid of the water, but the bulk of the nutrients remain behind.
When a dehydrator is used, the drying time for thinly sliced oranges is typically between 12 and 24 hours. The orange slices should be turned several times so they'll dry evenly and completely. One of the keys to success is to make certain the slices are completely dry, as orange slices will be prone to mold if too much moisture remains in them.
If you're still not certain whether you want to peel the oranges beforehand, be aware that the peeled slices can be somewhat messier to handle, and will involve a bit more dehydrator and drying tray cleanup. Those who go this route however will tell you the extra effort is more than worth it, given the delicious taste of the finished product.
Many Ways To Eat Them - Dried oranges can be eaten as candy, snacks, or appetizers. They tend to be a bit chewy, but that seems to make them all the more enjoyable and tasty. In case you're wondering how many oranges to work with, that of course can depend on the size of your dehydrator, and how many drying cycles you’re prepared to go through. It takes a little over 8 pounds of navel oranges to produce 1 pound of dried oranges, taking into account the discarding of the end pieces. If you remove the peels, expect to end up with something under a pound, but that's still a goodly number of delicious dried orange slices.
Dried oranges can be ground up and used for a seasoning or flavoring. The powder should be kept in an air tight container so it won't absorb moisture, and you might not want to make too much of it at one time. Dried orange slices can also be cut into smaller bits and used in green salads, where they seem to be especially good when used in combination with pecans and cranberries.
As Decorations - As far as decorations are concerned, the oven will serve you well here, though the dried slices will still be quite delicious if you decide to snack on a few. Dried slices make nice additions to wreaths, or as decorations on the Christmas tree. They also have a pleasant aroma, and if sliced thinly enough make interesting light catchers. Preparing orange slices for decorations is a project young children will enjoy as much as adults.